Minister of Justice & Constitutional Development Budget Speech, response by DA
25 May 2021
Minister Ronald Lamola: Justice and Correctional Services Dept Budget Vote 2021/22
25 May 2021
Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services, Budget Policy Statement for Department of Justice and Constitutional Development delivered virtually to Parliament by Minister Ronald Lamola
Honourable House Chairperson
Members of the Executive Present
Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery & Deputy Minister for Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Honourable Bulelani Magwanishe
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services
Honourable Members of this August House
Director General for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Adv Mashabane
Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Anton Du Plessis
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is perhaps a great coincidence of fate, that we gather on this historic day, Afrika Day, to discuss how South Africa, as a sovereign state, can continue to deepen constitutionalism, respect for the rule of law, promote the respect for human rights and provide quality and state legal advisory services, as well as access to Justice, which continuously restore the dignity of her people.
This budget for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, is presented on the backdrop of the 25th anniversary of the Constitution. In an article which traverses the history of our great constitution, Former President Thabo Mbeki, makes a point that none will refute, and that is: “This historic document seeks to establish a social order and governance system that is the direct opposite of what the Act of South Africa in 1909 and D.F. Malan and his National Party sought to impose our country, building on and consolidating three centuries of colonial conquest, oppression and exploitation.” Unquote
House Chairperson, as we celebrate this historic document, We convey our gratitude to the speaker for acceeding to our request for a debate on the constitution during a Joint sitting of Parliament on, Friday, the 28th of May 2021.
On this day in 1963, 58 years ago, Pan African revolutionaries like Kwame Nkrumah and many others, gathered in Addis Abba on the invitation of Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie. As a collective, they formed the Organization of African Unity, which we know as the African Union today.
House Chairperson, the words of Emperor Haile Selassie at this gathering are a clear demonstration of what the liberation of South Africa meant to the other states on the continent.
Emperor Haile Selassie said, “Our liberty is meaningless, unless all Africans are free. Our brothers in South Africa, cry out in anguish for our support and assistance. We must align and identify ourselves with all aspects of their struggle. It would be betrayal were we [to] pay only lip service to the cause of their liberation and fail to back our words with action.” Unquote
Honourable Members, it is this firm commitment towards our liberation that helped us break the stranglehold of apartheid. Our African brothers and sisters spared no effort to help us break a regime premised on systemic corruption and total disregard for human rights.
We want to take this opportunity and wish all Africans a progressive Africa Day, which celebrates and acknowledges our successes in the fight against
colonialism and apartheid. We also reflect on the journey ahead in terms of common challenges that Africa is confronted with.
Today we table a budget which advances a new social order and enables us to uproot the legacy of apartheid and the remnants of a society which had no regard for human rights.
The budget allocation of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for the financial year 2021/22, amounts to R21.5 billion. This is inclusive of the allocation for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and transfers to the two constitutional bodies, namely the Public Protector and the South African Human Rights Commission.
In addition, the budget allocation also provides funding for the Information Regulator as well as transfers to the Legal Aid South Africa, the Special Investigating Unit and a Direct Charge to the National Revenue Fund in respect of Magistrates salaries. This budget enables the Department and its entities to execute their respective constitutional and statutory mandates.
The above-mentioned budget was reduced by R2.4 billion.
R2 billion is allocated to Legal Aid South Africa, R437.9 million to the Special Investigations Unit, R329 million to the Public Protector South Africa and R195 million, to the South African Human Rights Commission.
Further, the tabled budget also includes an amount of R2.4 billion for the Direct Charge to the National Revenue Fund in respect of Magistrates Salaries
To combat crime, fraud and corruption, the National Prosecution Authority’s allocation for 2021/22 amounts to R4, 446 billion, an amount of R106.4 million has been set for the Investigative Directorate whilst an amount of R40 million is provided for the establishment of additional Special Commercial Crime Courts in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and North West.
The Specialized Commercial Crimes Courts (SCCCs) are central to the fight against corruption and will contribute to the successful implementation of the anti-corruption strategy. The SCCCs have been established in all provinces.
All serious economic crimes, including corruption and fraud cases, are being channeled through these courts. Cases enrolled in these courts, are being monitored separately to enable targeted interventions where necessary.
We will also continue to roll out Sexual Offences Courts, they play a critical role in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide. In the current financial year, a total of 100 Sexual Offences courts will be dedicated in terms of Section 55A of the Sexual Offences Act to improve the adjudication of sexual offences matters.
The modernization of the Criminal Justice System continues to be one of the JCPS Cluster’s priorities, hence an amount of R626.2 million has been allocated for the Integrated Justice System. A further R524.3 million is set aside for the Department’s specific modernization projects.
The review of the criminal and civil justice systems remains a priority area of focus. We have assigned this important task to the South African Law Reform Commission and we have commenced with initiatives to increase the capacity of the Commission to carry out this important task.
During the 2020/2021 financial year, the Department was able to complete the consultation processes regarding the rationalization of magisterial districts in respect of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal provinces.
In the current financial year, we will commence with the second and last phase of the rationalization project. This phase entails the rationalizing of the
areas under the jurisdiction of the Divisions of the High Court and the Judicial establishments of both Divisions of the High Court and Magistrates’ Courts.
The terms of reference of this important phase of the rationalisation project will be published in the Government Gazette in due course. A rationalisation committee will be established to provide a detailed report and recommendations which will enable us to finally dismantle the remaining apartheid-era judicial demarcations and fully align the courts to the new democratic dispensation.
Their work will culminate in the equitable distribution of judicial posts in both the High Court and Magistrates’ Courts. This will translate into greater access to justice for all, as each court will have the requisite capacity and capability to dispense justice to the local community.
The Department is continuing with the improvement of infrastructure to increase access to justice. Despite the slowdown in the capital infrastructure projects, which are coordinated through the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, the department was able meet its target in the last financial year.
For instance, the Durban Point Magistrate’s Court which I had the pleasure of opening on 26 March 2021, is case in point. This court, with its immaculate
design and modern fittings, will go a long way in alleviating the congestion at the main District Court of Durban.
This court will be the first court in South Africa, where domestic violence survivors can apply online for a protection order. We hope to learn important lessons from this pilot as we prepare to roll out a more comprehensive version throughout the country.
Construction of the Dimbaza Magistrate’s Court, in the Eastern Cape, was also completed in October 2020. The Department also completed major refurbishments and upgrading in a number of courts.
Integrating and modernising systems of the Criminal Justice System through the use technology
The Department, in intensifying its efforts to utilize ICT as a strategic enabler, and a mechanism to improve access to justice services, has done some considerable work.
Through technology, the serving of court processes like summons, which traditionally are served physically by the police and sheriffs, will now be able
to be served electronically to the parties, thus freeing up time to focus on service delivery priorities.
The integration of this technology across the justice system, will also enable a real-time single view of individuals engaging with the justice system, where for example, an integrated system will indicate, at any given point, whether individuals have protection orders against their names or are applying for maintenance from different defendants at different courts, across the country.
Key Initiatives over the 2021/22 period:
In the current digital era, it has become imperative to have an effective online presence between citizens and the Department. This initiative improves citizens’ service through greater flexibility, cost savings, faster delivery of justice service, less paper to waste and certainly increased professionalism.
We will ensure that Justice Services are accessible to citizens via digital platforms.
The services will include:
● Maintenance services available on the DOJ Internet Portal (online)
● Protection Orders available on the DOJ Internet Portal (online)
● Expungement of Criminal Records services accessible via Digital platforms
A sustainable and radical land justice programme
In March 2021, we announced plans to transfer the Land Rights Management Facility housed within the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to Legal Aid SA. The implementation of these plans commenced in April 2021.
This is an extension of the entity’s mandate to ensure access to justice, and the right of a person to have legal representation as envisaged in the Constitution, is materialized in pursuit of land justice, which has long evaded the majority of our population.
Combatting Gender-Based Violence
Honourable Members, I would like to really commend this house and our portfolio committee for helping us to implement our resolve to build safer communities by strengthening our criminal justice system especially in so far as Gender Based Violence is concerned.
The work you have done on the three GBV bills is an invaluable contribution. These Bills are the fruits of the Presidential Summit on Gender Based Violence and Femicide in 2018.
The high conviction rate of 75,8% for sexual offences reflects the firm commitment to deliver justice to these vulnerable members of society.
Fight Corruption and Promoting Integrity
The fight against corruption is a key priority for the NPA, as this scourge impedes service delivery, undermines the rule of law; and costs citizens trillions in monetary value.
A review of existing anti-corruption legislation and institutional arrangements in line with implementing the National Anti-Corruption strategy continues to be a priority.
The National Anti-Corruption Strategy, adopted by Cabinet in November 2020, has signalled the resolve of the Anti-Corruption Task Team to deliver on its work. The ACTT case management committee was revived and serious corruption cases, in cooperation with all other stakeholders, are being addressed in various projects.
A total of 128 cases were registered with 91 cases under investigation, 19 were closed, and 18 cases are currently before court with 35 accused persons. A total of 25 new cases were included on the list of ACTT Priority corruption cases.
One of the most important projects within the NPA in terms of corruption is increased co-ordination among relevant entities in fighting corruption. An example of this is the Fusion Centre in which corruption related to COVID-19 funds are dealt with. The number of incidents registered was 146, with 118 incidents under investigation and 28 closed.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) plays a critical part in the fight against corruption, it has delivered significant returns in the past year, illustrating that crime does not pay.
In an effort to curtail the increase of corruption, the NPA obtained freezing orders to the value of R611 million in corruption or related offences in the last financial year.
The NPA and in particular the AFU, is implementing significant prioritisation initiatives during the 2021/22 period in partnership with the DPCI, SCCU, SIU, FIC, SARS and the Reserve Bank. Two main projects are the establishment of
Fusion Centre Regional Offices and the Expansion on the Anti-Corruption Task Team presence in the Regions.
The purpose of both these projects is to fast track the process of referral of high value cases, with asset forfeiture potential to the AFU. The NPA finalised a high-performance strategy in the AFU space to address the fight against priority crimes.
A process is underway to amend the POCA legislation in order to increase the effectiveness of asset recovery.
In partnership, the AFU and the Investigative Directorate through closely working together, are fast tracking cases with a view of initiating asset forfeiture proceedings and the recovery of stolen money from all jurisdictions, both national and foreign, this includes cases which are state capture related.
The Investigating Directorate (ID), with its multi-disciplinary approach brings prosecutors, investigators and analysts together in order to combat serious, complex or high-profile corruption, this is the cornerstone of addressing corruption.
The NPA currently has its full top leadership team in place and it is prioritising the filling of other key senior posts in the coming months, this will bring much needed stability and leadership innovation to the NPA.
The top leadership is driving the following 4 priorities over the coming few months:
● Expediting high-profile corruption cases nationally and provincially.
● A stronger focus on serious violent and organised crime, and crimes that disproportionately undermine public safety.
● Capacitating the NPA through recruiting crucial additional skills and expertise, and capabilities, to respond to existing and emerging priorities.
● Enhancing staff morale and well-being.
It should be noted that high conviction rates were maintained in all court forums. Conviction rates of 93,8% in the high courts, 82,6% in the regional courts and 95,9% in the district courts, were recorded.
Regardless of these impressive conviction rates, the Covid-19 pandemic had a negative knock-on effect on the number of outstanding court rolls and backlog cases.
A National Integrated Criminal Case Backlog Management Plan was developed by the Department to create a framework and to provide guidelines for the management of historical and current criminal case backlogs in the lower courts which resulted from the lockdown measures.
The NPA, the Department, Legal Aid South Africa and the Judiciary, participate in the Optimisation Project which is led by the Deputy Minister John Jeffery.
Cases at a local level are prioritised, backlogs are monitored and steps to address the local challenges are agreed on by local stakeholders.
Reforming and Repealing Apartheid and colonial era legislation
Several measures and interventions were over the years, initiated to remove apartheid laws from the statute book. The purpose of the Justice Laws Rationalisation Act, 1996, was to remove colonial and apartheid era legislation. A rigorous and robust constitutional review by the Constitutional Court also resulted in the declaration of a myriad of statutory provisions found by the Court to be inimical to the values and ethos contained in the Constitution.
Numerous other projects were also initiated or supported by government, such as the statutory law revision project conducted by the SALRC which focused on legislative compliance with Section 9 of the Constitution and the removal of archaic terminology and reference to repealed legislation.
However, some pieces of legislation which are not overtly unconstitutional, unjust or anti-democratic, nonetheless still formed part of a suite of legislative enactments designed to foster the policies of apartheid, have survived. A few examples of these statutes include the Transkei Penal Code (Act 9 of 1983), the KwaZulu Act on the Code of Zulu Law (Act 16 of 1985) and the Riotous Assemblies Act (Act 17 of 1956).
Following the approval of the inclusion of the project onto the programme of the SALRC, I appointed experts to assist the SALRC in undertaking this critical task in November 2020. A call for submissions was widely publicised in May 2021, seeking public input into the repeal of these statutes.
The continued existence of these laws in our statute book is not compatible with our Constitutional order. We will lead the process to review and repeal these statutes. At the same time, great care should be taken to ensure that the abrogation of these statutes does not leave or create a lacuna in the law.
By way of example, the current Extradition Act as well as the Insolvency Act come to the fore.
The Extradition Act, 1962, is an outdated Act which is not in line with modern law and practices. We will introduce a new Bill which seeks to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different functionaries and put procedures in place to expedite extradition requests. This Bill is aimed at ensuring that South Africa is not a safe haven for international fugitives.
Transforming the State Legal Services and the Legal Profession
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is anticipated that the South African Law Reform Commission will finalize Project 142: Investigation into legal fees, including access to justice and other interventions, by the end of the first quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year.
Chapter 13 of the NDP refers to building a capable and developmental State, with the first objective being a State that is capable of playing a developmental and transformative role. A well-functioning litigation service is fully aligned with this vision.
The Solicitor General is also developing a comprehensive policy framework to address the transformation of the legal profession in a systematic manner, focusing on work distribution, management, oversight, skills development, and exposure as well as reporting. This policy framework is done with a particular bias to Previously Disadvantaged Individuals’ (PDI’s).
I am also pleased with the progress to date on the Legal Sector Code. Together with the Legal Practice Council, we have concluded all internal processes in developing the code. The transformation of the legal profession is not only a matter of demographical change, but it must also be linked to the quality of work that historically disadvantaged practitioners engage in.
A turnaround for the Masters Office
The department is developing an online deceased estate system. This will be a convenient method that allows people who want to report deceased estates to do so in the comfort of their offices, homes or at any other remote location.
This approach will drastically reduce queues and walk-in customers in the offices of the Masters or at the service points.
The online deceased estates system will cut across the population as both rich and poor are affected by death. It is envisaged that Deceased Estate online services will be implemented in the 2021/22 year.
We will also introduce trust online services this financial year.
This will streamline the Trust registration process and assist in curbing fraud as applicants will be able to lodge their applications online. This will assist with the workload of the Trust Sections as most information will be captured and scanned in by the applicants, freeing the Masters’ hands to apply their minds thoroughly to the lodged documents and other clients.
The Master has a moral duty to protect the constitutional rights of the vulnerable ‘incapacitated’ members of the society.
Honourable Members, the advent of COVID-19 has really forced us to rethink all our processes and prioritize innovation.
I hereby table a budget that re-orientates our state in the image of the constitution. A budget that invests innovation, land justice and the rule of law as well as an accessible justice system.
As we commemorate Africa Day, we want to conclude by quoting Haile Selassie when he said: Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
I thank you.
Address by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development,
The Hon JH Jeffery, MP
For the Budget Vote Debate – Vote 25: Justice and Constitutional Development, National Assembly, 25 May 2021
Honourable Minister Ronald Lamola,
Members of the Executive,
Deputy Minister for Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Honourable Members,
The Director-General, Adv Mashabane,
Distinguished Guests, friends,
As we celebrate Africa Day, we are once again reminded of the words of Kwame Nkrumah when he said that –
“Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. They claim it as their own and none can keep it from them.”
Freedom and access to justice go to the very heart of what our Department does, as we work towards building and deepening constitutionalism and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
We are celebrating Africa Month under the theme: “The year of Arts, Culture and Heritage in the year of Charlotte Maxeke”.
Charlotte Maxeke was a pioneer and an activist when, at the turn of the twentieth century, she became the first African woman in our country to attend university, when she enrolled at Wilberforce University in the USA.
Upon her return to South Africa, she committed herself to improving the lives of African women and children. She was also actively involved in helping women and children in prisons. She was unwavering in her commitment to women’s rights.
As a country, we say that we value women’s rights and gender equality, yet many of the women of our country face gender-based violence on a daily basis. Addressing the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) and violence against women and children is a fundamental part of what our Department does.
During the past financial year, the Department introduced what is known as the three GBV Bills.
We note the progress made by the Portfolio Committee on these Bills and hope that the President will be able to enact the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill, the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, 2 and the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, during this financial year.
These Bills provide for more protection for complainants of gender-based violence, more victim-centred mechanisms to be made available to them and a stricter approach towards the measures to be taken against perpetrators before, during and after the trial.
Our Sexual Offences Courts and our Thuthuzela Care Centres also play a critical role in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.
As the Minister has indicated, a total of 100 Sexual Offences courts will be designated in terms of Section 55A of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Act, 2007, to improve the adjudication of sexual offences cases.
The designation will mean that members of the public will know what they can expect from a Sexual Offences Court as a designated court will need to conform to the minimum requirements as set out in the Regulations.
When it comes to domestic violence applications for protection orders, it is extremely concerning that in excess of 194 000 such applications were made in 2020/21. Of these, a staggering 21% come from KwaZulu-Natal, followed by Gauteng at 14% and Limpopo at 13%.
When it comes to the types of abuse, one complainant can register more than one type of abuse and there were 137 800 instances of emotional, verbal or psychological abuse, followed by 64 400 instances of physical abuse.
Because these are domestic violence applications, we know that these atrocities are being committed by people who know each other, people who are or were in a relationship – these are not strangers attacking unknown victims. This is happening in our homes.
Economic abuse is also a sad reality of the world we live in, particularly where parents and spouses default on their legal obligation to maintain their dependants.
Plans are in place to introduce Maintenance On-line Applications (the MOLA System) as the initial phase of establishing a comprehensive electronic management of maintenance matters.
Currently Magistrates Courts receive thousands of manual applications for maintenance claims and at times the complainant is not aware of what documentation is required - which then leads to them having to make multiple trips to the maintenance court.
The new system seeks to ease the current cumbersome process by creating a Web Portal for the submission of maintenance application forms online. It will also enable the user to track how far the application is in the system.
The Portal will further inform the user of their next court appearance. This innovation will take us a step closer to our goal of using technology to simplify lengthy processes and continue to improve access to justice services for all.
This is the first phase of the comprehensive electronic management of maintenance. This solution will be piloted in our model court in Point Road, Durban, this year, before it is rolled-out to the other 450 maintenance courts.
In July last year, when we delivered our previous Budget Vote, we had had to come to grips with Covid-19 and new ways of delivering justice in a South Africa in such circumstances.
Our main focus remains the optimal functioning of our courts and the justice system as well as the protection of human rights and vulnerable groups in times of Covid-19.
We are working closely with the key stakeholders in our Magistrates Courts – the Chief Magistrates, the NPA, Legal Aid SA, the Department of Correctional Services, the SAPS and the Department of Social Development to ensure that we finalise the maximum number of cases that we are able to during this period.
The Magistrates’ Courts continue to grapple with huge case backlogs which were already high even before the pronouncement of the state of national disaster in March 2020. These backlogs increased during the hard lockdown.
From the records kept by the Department, case backlogs stood at 53% and 48% in the Regional Courts and District Courts respectively immediately before the announcement of the lockdown in March 2020.
By 31 March 2021, the backlogs had decreased to 48.87% and 14.14% in respect of the Regional Courts and the District Courts respectively. This is because of the continued focus which the Department and our stakeholders have been putting on reducing the backlog cases and the prioritisation of matters involving GBVF, matters involving children as well as corruption-related matters. Matters where there are persons awaiting trial are also prioritised.
We continue with the implementation of measures to bring down the backlogs. As part of the measures underway, the Department has procured over 1 500 new laptops and the requisite data and IT equipment for use by magistrates.
This yielded results as many cases, particularly civil matters, were dispensed with on virtual platforms during the hard lockdown. There were 37 572 matters where audio-visual remand (AVR) was utilised as a virtual appearance method with the detainee in DCS custody in 2020/21.
Regular meetings of all the stakeholders, except unfortunately the Regional Court Presidents, as part of our Court Optimisation Committee are held to discuss ways of unblocking operational challenges for the lower courts to function optimally.
Our magistrates have to perform their duties at the very coalface of justice.
The Department is presently refining a draft Magistrates Bill which is aimed at replacing the Magistrates Act of 1993, in order to engage with, and obtain the inputs of, the interested role-players, including those of the superior courts' judiciary.
We are also developing legislation, provisionally called the "Lower Courts Bill" that is aimed at replacing the Magistrates' Courts Act of 1944.
It is common cause that all legislative provisions pertaining to the Superior Courts and the judiciary of those courts were framed after our transition to democracy in 1994.
The post-1994 constitutional order elevated the constitutional status of the magistracy.
In terms of section 68(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1983, the judicial authority of the Republic was vested in the Supreme Court of
South Africa. However, both the interim (1993) Constitution (in section 96) and the final Constitution (in section 165) vested the judicial authority in all courts. Magistrates' Courts are also specifically mentioned in section 166 of the Constitution as forming part of the Republic's judicial system.
Magistrates are therefore just as much part of the judicial authority as the judges of the superior courts.
The Magistrates Act, 1993, emanates from an era before the advent of the new constitutional dispensation in South Africa.
The Magistrates’ Courts Act, 1944, has been amended on various occasions, but because it is still archaic, it is necessary to review the whole Act.
Progress has been made in this area of work which is intended to transform the statutory framework regulating the structure and functioning of the lower courts and enhancing the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of the lower courts.
The Minister of Justice appointed 24 Senior Magistrates to vacant offices with effect from 1 January 2021 after having considered the recommendations of the Magistrates Commission.
The Commission also finalised their recommendations for the filling of 165 vacant posts of District Magistrates. A total of 476 candidates were shortlisted and interviewed by the Commission. It is anticipated that the Minister will soon make appointments arising from the recommendations of the Commission.
We would like to convey our appreciation to the members of the Magistrates Commission and the supporting officials in completing this mammoth task that had to be staggered over a 4-month period of due to the large number of shortlisted candidates and the other commitments of the members of the Appointments Committee.
The numbers of senior judicial heads that are currently suspended pending the finalisation of their misconduct proceeding, as well as the period of time that it takes to bring these matters to finality, remain a matter of considerable concern.
I would like to pay tribute to the various officials and magistrates who continue to serve the public and ensure access to justice for all during this pandemic.
Sadly, many of them have passed away during the pandemic and we wish to convey our sincerest condolences to the families of these officials and magistrates. We also want to pay special tribute to the Hon Jacqui Mofokeng, MP, who was the whip of the Portfolio Committee, who also sadly passed away recently.
With regards to the sheriffs’ profession, I want to convey my appreciation to the outgoing chairperson and members of the South African Board for Sheriffs for further enhancing the work of the sheriffs’ profession and for the clean audits received during their term.
With regards to the South African Human Rights Commission, in October last year we had to bid a very sad farewell to the Commission’s Deputy Chairperson and renowned human rights’ lawyer and activist, Priscilla Jana. She was responsible for the Commission’s work on equality and dedicated her life to the struggle for liberation and democracy.
This is an important year for the Information Regulator. In June last year the President issued a proclamation to bring into effect a number of the remaining sections of Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPIA) on 1 July 2020. The last two sections, sections 110 and 114(4), will commence on 30 June this year. In short, private and public bodies will have to ensure compliance with the Act by 1 July this year.
As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of our Constitution – a Constitution which has been lauded around the world as being one of the most progressive – it is an opportune time to reflect on how far we have come as a nation.
To, once again, quote Dr Kwane Nkrumah, he said –
“Those who would judge us merely by the heights we have achieved would do well to remember the depths from which we started.”
As much as leaders from a certain opposition party would argue to the contrary, nothing good came from colonialism. We had to, as the late President Mandela said, suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.
Those were the depths from which we started.
But over the past 24 years our 1996 Constitution has enjoined us to the attainment of human rights for all and respect for the rule of law.
But there is still much more to be done. Poverty, inequality and discrimination stand in the way of the full attainment of the society we are trying to create – a society where every single person can claim freedom and human dignity as their own and none can keep it from them.
I thank you.