Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. Picture: Masi Losi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. Picture: Masi Losi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Plan to have more high courts, equitable distribution of judges across SA

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Oct 13, 2021

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Johannesburg - Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has appointed retired Justice Dikgang Moseneke, former deputy chief justice, to head a rationalisation committee to help improve access to justice that could lead to more seats of the high court.

Lamola on Tuesday announced the establishment of the committee, which will include retired Western Cape High Court deputy judge president Jeanette Traverso, retired chief magistrate Renuka Subban and retired deputy national director of public prosecutions Dr Silas Ramaite.

The committee’s terms of reference were published in the Government Gazette in June.

The committee’s terms of reference direct it to inquire into, report on and make recommendations on the areas in which the main or local seat exercise jurisdiction taking into account the distances travelled by litigants and the costs they incur to access such services.

Other factors to be considered when the committee does its work will be the existing court infrastructure and the medium- and long-term plans to upgrade and build new courts.

The committee will also take into account factors Lamola may consider in establishing a local seat of a high court division and its areas of jurisdiction and establish the proximity of police stations and other state functionaries to the main or local seat.

It will assess the judicial establishment of each high court division with the view to ensure equitable distribution of judicial posts across all divisions and local seats, considering the numerical strength of each, current and future case load and workload trends and the population they serve.

Moseneke’s committee must consider the possible knock-on effects of any proposed adjustment of the judicial establishment on the human resource components supporting judicial processes and the administration of justice as well as the economic situation and affordability of the proposed rationalisation.

Heads of courts, interested members of the judiciary and a number of components of the justice system such as the National Prosecuting Authority, the SAPS, the Legal Practice Council, Legal Aid SA and the SA Board for Sheriffs will be consulted.

Other organs of state and members of the public with vested interest in the outcome of the rationalisation process will be consulted, liaised with and invited to comment and make submissions.

“As we reimagine South Africa into a development state, we need to ensure that the structural barriers which inadvertently hamper access to justice are addressed systemically.

I have no doubt that this committee headed by Justice Moseneke will deliver a report which will bring our systems in line with the best global practices. The rationalisation of judicial and associated posts will ensure effective utilisation of human resource capital,” Lamola said.

The committee started its work earlier this month and is expected to submit its report with recommendations within six months.

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Political Bureau

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