Justice and Constitutional Development Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report

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Justice and Correctional Services

25 October 2011
Chairperson: Mr L Landers (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report. A few recommendations and corrections were made to the report.

The Committee agreed on the contents of the document but came up with a few other issues they felt needed to be included in the final report, these were funding for the South African Human Rights Commission, improvement of the Department of Justice and Constitutional  Department's Information Technology system and the introduction of the Sexual Offences Courts , among other issues.  The Committee decided that the issue of maintenance as well as the lack of synergy in data capturing and processing of statistics for the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster would be included in the report. The Committee requested that it should be included in the report that the National Prosecuting Authority was also not providing sufficient data for sexual offences cases. The Committee requested that it should be noted in the report that the child maintenance figures were worse than last year. The Committee also agreed on the recommendations for provision of funds to: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (IT and access to the law reports and judgments to be added to the requests table); National Prosecuting Authority; Legal Aid South Africa; Special Investigating Unit (baseline to be increased by R115 million). The Committee had to obtain further input and figures from the Public Protector and South African Human Rights Commission.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the, Members and informed them of the programme for the day assuming that all Members had read the report.

Ms D Schäfer (DA) said that she was not too sure of the maintenance issue had been sufficiently covered as she had raised it several times. The number of maintenance applications was far more than those processed, the Director General of the Department had also agreed.

Mr J Jeffrey (ANC) proposed that pages1 to 24 should be considered as one section instead of considering the document page by page, the Members agreed. There should be an additional table in the report with responses from the Department. The first observance was that the Criminal Justice data did not tally with all the other departments in the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) like Police, Correctional Services and the Courts ect.

Ms Schäfer said that the departments used different methods and mechanisms. There had to be consistency. In addition there was no separate section for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The report should include that the NPA was also not providing sufficient data for sexual offences cases.

The Chairperson informed the Content Advisor that these were further observations that should be included in the report.

The Chairperson had a call from the House Chairperson Mr Cedric Frolick on the international study tour and talked of the probability of an overseas visit slot being made available to the Committee in November because there were Committees which would not be going oversees during that period.

Mr Jeffrey recommended that Germany and America were the two countries with a Constitutional Court system and if there was any visit that was going to be taken, it was supposed to be to any one of those two since they were the only ones with similarities to South Africa.

Ms S Smuts (DA) also noted the missing statistics on sexual offences and wanted them included in the report.

Mr Jeffrey also felt that the issues of accommodation and accountability had to be dealt with. He wanted an update as to how far they had gone and the takeover of maintenance.

Ms Schäfer suggested that on the issue of accommodation, an investigation was supposed to be launched to find out whether it was feasible or not. The child maintenance figures were not impressive and were worse than the previous year; this should be included in the report.

Mr Jeffrey wanted the report to come stronger on Information Technology (IT) because the system was not working in an acceptable manner.

Ms Schäfer emphasised that the IT system actually needed to be completely upgraded   hence suggested extra money to be channeled there. On vulnerable groups , she noted how on several occasions they had called for diversity and agreed on more senior persons mentoring the junior ones as they grew in the industry but she did not see how that was coming through.

Mr Jeffrey also made an observation of the Sexual Offences Court. The issue remained to be undertaken especially after the Thuthuzela Care Centres were being withdrawn. They had to consider giving The Child Justice Court regional and district courts. He also raised the issue of incentives for the magistrates to entice them to take sexual offences cases. Some of them gave traumatizing and lack of incentives as reasons for them not taking up cases.

The Chairperson was shocked to hear that magistrates could actually choose cases they wanted to attend as he was of the opinion that judges could not choose.

Mr Jeffery said that it was more of a case where Magistrates did not want to do sexual offences cases only as they would be traumatised.

Mr J Sibanyoni (ANC) also raised his observation that the Department of Justice had struggled to identify some of the victims in some cases and had sought the assistance of the Home Affairs department only to find out that a number of them were no longer alive. He suggested a speedy reaction to dealing with the cases.

The Chairperson responded that the situation had been rectified and there was an improvement on the tracing system. They had earlier on appointed an individual plus a Tracing Agency and that was hopeless.

Members agreed that on the issue of Judicial Training, there was need for clarification as to whether the training was being conducted or not because the current situation was confusing.

Mr Jeffrey also raised a point on the resourcing of judicial officers. He wanted an explanation as to why there was a lack of up to date statutes and the co relations of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and the Constitutional Court (CC). The issue of Magistrates’ Courts adjudicating in Promotion of Access to Justice (PAIA) disputes should be included in the report. 

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee engage with the Minister first on the issue of the copyright of judgments from the SCA and CC. On Legal Aid South Africa (LASA), he also recommended the report to contain some very nice things about Judge Mlambo as it was his last term of service.

Adv S Holomisa (ANC) also raised the issue of Traditional Leaders and cases that they were authorised to preside over. They had to be given certificates authorising them to try certain categories of crimes.

Mr Jeffery said that Adv Holomisa’s comments should be included in the report and it should be noted that the Committee wanted the Bill to be introduced as soon as possible.

The Chairperson responded by saying that the matter had been raised before and was pending, regardless of the Traditional Courts Bill. It was still with the interim because of technical problems.

Ms Schäfer also raised that the report was supposed to have a small section congratulating the DG for a good job on the Unqualified Audit for the NPA after having just missed a disclaimer last term.

Mr Jeffery said that the Eskom case was not mentioned in the report.

The Committee agreed that the matter should be fast tracked as the Chairperson had spoken to the DG about this.

Mr Jeffery said that the SAHRC should get more funding however he was not happy with the Public Protector (PP). The PP has received more money and their request now was for additional funding. The PP was not being practical especially with them wanting to open more offices. The issue of Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) applying to their investigators maybe something to look at. Even at the meeting yesterday the PP had a photographer and that was a waste of money.

Ms Schäfer agreed that there may be some excessive things like the photographer however there was no justification for refusing the PP more funding. It could be mentioned in the report that the Committee was still concerned about the opening of more offices. The PP was doing good work and as things stood now they were technically insolvent with the R12 million deficit.

Mr Jeffery said that the PP had received an extra R10 million in the adjustments appropriation. The Committee could not simply agree to the OSD money for the PP as every other state entity would have to be given more money on this basis.

Ms Smuts asked about the deficit.

Mr Jeffery asked what the PP was doing what they were supposed to do.

The Committee also agreed on the recommendations for provision of funds to

•Department of Justice (IT and access to the law reports and judgments to be added to the requests table)
•National Prosecuting Authority
•Legal Aid South Africa
•Special Investigating Unit (baseline to be increased by R115 million)
•The Committee had to obtain further input and figures from the Public Protector and South African •Human Rights Commission

It was agreed that the Committee Secretary would edit the amendments and the Committee would meet on Friday to approve the final version of the report.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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