The Justice and Correctional Services Department has bettered their performance as compared to the previous financial year, with some interventions implemented that pushed their standing from 43% to 67%.
The target for the department is to achieve at least 80% of the annual targets by the end of 2021-22 financial year.
However, in light of the ransomware attack, which devastated a number of the systems, Minister Ronald Lamola said a great deal of innovation would be required to ensure that this goal is achieved.
Lamola was presenting the political overview on Annual Reports for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Correctional Services and Office of the Chief Justice, covering the period of 2020-21 financial year on Tuesday.
He said that last year, he and Deputy Minister John Jeffery shared their assessment which indicated that the administration needed to be re-engineered significantly to meet the expectations of South Africans.
“It is only fair that we report back on how far we have fared in the process of re-engineering the department,” he said, shortly before providing a detailed overview of the department's performance in the year.
The department now had a full complement of senior management leadership with a new Director General, Advocate Doctor Mashabane, who started steering the ship in the latter part of the financial year.
The leadership and vacancy rate at a senior management level had begun to stabilise, Lamola reported.
He said the remaining shortlisted and advertised positions would be finalised from December to February, to bring the vacancy rate to under 9%.
Lamola said that a new macro-structure has been designed and would be approved before the end of this financial year, while the implementation of corrective actions and consequence management under way from the last financial year, was continuing.
“We completed 16 disciplinary hearings cases which relate to maladministration. An assessment of the skill set of senior management has been concluded, along with a culture and climate survey,” he said.
He reported that the Office of the Chief Justice is one step closer to obtaining a clean audit, having obtained an unqualified audit outcome with no material findings, and has since implemented the case lines projected fully in the Gauteng Division.
“This has ensured that justice can be served even under the most difficult circumstances. Their vacancy rate remains well within the norm below 10%,” he reported further.
Improving the courts
In terms of modernising court administration, a Cashless Court Solution was deployed to a total of 25 courts. The Department had developed trust and deceased online registration services which are at advanced stages. This was in direct response to the efficiency challenges in the Master’s office, Lamola said.
The e-submissions enhancements for memoranda and Parliamentary questions were also developed, tested and rolled out. The third party management system, called MojaPay, was implemented at 483 courts, in nine regions. The remaining seven courts were rolled-out in the 2020/2021 financial year.
The solution also caters for the administration of financial management processes at State Attorney offices and has been implemented at all 12 State Attorney offices countrywide, while SMS notifications capability was implemented in the Domestic Violence and Family Advocate Services to notify the parties on the status of the cases.
The department had also seen the reintroduction of the candidate attorney system with over 80 posts being advertised across the country.
Lamola reported that in so far as their fight against corruption was concerned, the Investigative Directorate (ID) was at an advantaged state of on boarding capacity for a digital forensic lab.
He reported that since the commencement of the 2021/22 financial year, the ID issued and concluded 33 Section 28 inquiries; 13 warrants of arrest, and eight red notices to other jurisdictions were applied for.
He further reported that the ID obtained the freezing orders which amounted to R1.4 Billion freezing order obtained in the Eskom Investigation and an unlimited freezing order was obtained in the Nulane Investigation.
“We have also given effect to the anti-corruption strategy by establishing six new Special Commercial Crime Courts, these courts are spread as follows: three in Limpopo and three between Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape,” he said.
In the last financial year, Lamola reported that 97% – which translated to 64 out of 66 – of cases of officials, charged and found guilty for corrupt activities, were concluded.
For the same reporting period, under Irregular Expenditure, the department had a total of 933 cases, and 789 of these cases were investigated and concluded. The department was left with a total of 144 cases to conclude for the last financial year, he said.
In line with the call by the auditor general, Lamola said the department wanted to ensure progressive and sustainable improvements in its audit outcomes, and to address the findings that were raised in the departmental audit report.
In terms of performance, Lamola reported that the department recorded a 70% achievement against the 89% of the last financial year.
“We could not achieve 16 of our 54 annual targets, mostly, arising from Covid-19 restrictions. However, we have adapted to the new normal. Performance in the first and second quarter of the current financial year bolster our expectations for an improved performance,” he said.