At the outset, the Committee noted that the Public Protector’s report on some aspects of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (the Department) had been tabled, and said it would be useful to get a written response when the Department had studied it, and comment on some unusual recommendations. The Department then continued with the presentation on Programmes 1 and 2, as outlined in the Annual Report for 2011/12. A detailed explanation was given of the focus on IT and the development of an IT strategy, not only to address intra-Departmental issues, but also in the context of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster, and integration of statistics, systems and information with Department of Correctional Services, Social Development (DSD) and South African Police Service (SAPS). It was also busy on risk mitigation in this area. Development of software systems, with a focus on maintenance and Master’s Office matters, was described. The Justice Modernisation Project and the heightened activities of the Integrated Justice System Board were also addressed, with the key priorities, and their current status, outlined. Members asked for clarity on the Board, and were concerned that the integrated systems still had not been developed, and questioned why, in particular, SAPS systems still did not align. They called for details of the budget and thought a meeting was needed with all roleplayers. They also wanted lists of the courts, correctional service facilities and police stations that had been linked to date, and when the rollout was likely to happen. The single numbering database was also an issue, as well as concerns over the use of and training on the systems by officials. The video postponement systems were also questioned.
Improvements to service delivery, through the Service Charter and Standards, improved communication and training, were outlined. The National Register for Sex Offenders was launched, including a school campaign. A media campaign was also launched on the Truth and Reconciliation Campaign tracing of beneficiaries. A deliberate focus had again been placed on maintenance matters and Master’s services. The budget and expenditure for Programme 1 were also explained. Members questioned the placement of the Witness Protection programme under the National Prosecuting Authority, wanted a reports on allegations that a particular Court manager had been “selling” jobs and on a complaint of victimisation against an official by a Regional Manager whose own status was in doubt, with a further query whether the Department had a whistleblower protection policy in place. The fingerprinting of employees who were to be employed was questioned, and the Committee would need to consider the implications of this being done under the Intelligence Act, and consider whether it more properly resided with the Department of Public Service and Administration. A report back was given, at the request of members, about lost trial records.
The strategic objectives and their achievement were described for Programme 2. The Department was responsible for coordination of Cluster activities geared to ensuring that people in South Africa were and felt safe. In this year, there as a focus on the case backlog, and although there were a number of matters handled, the problem remained one of “rolling numbers” and it was clear that more resources were needed for more courts. Case flow management driven by the Chief Justice had helped. A Maintenance Turnaround Project addressed various elements, ranging from training of front-line staff and process improvements, to the EFT transfers and decentralisation of payments to regions that were able to cope with them. The Department had won a Lean Management award, but was aware that some deeper systemic problems still had to be addressed. In respect of Vulnerable Groups, the Department noted the setting up and population of the Sexual Offenders Register, but also commented that matters reported by SAPS could not be incorporated without substantial investigation into the types of offences. One problem was that judicial officers were not making entry of the offender’s name on the Sexual Offenders Register part of the Order of Court. The report of the Task Team on the Sexual Offences Courts reflected merely that more time was needed to come up with recommendations. The Department did not achieve targets for One-Stop Child Justice Centres, and the placement of one in the Eastern Cape was under question. The targets for Family Advocates were not achieved. Members commented that there was still a problem of incorrect attitude with some maintenance officials, questioned the possible overlaps between maintenance officials at the Department and the National Prosecuting Authority, wondered if perhaps the Australian system, where maintenance awards were based on income, and ignored lifestyle choices, would be preferable. They questioned if the Registers should not be combined. They were concerned as to the criteria used to plan the Child Justice Centres, with one Member suggesting that more were surely needed in the cities. The suggestion was also made that the One-Stop Centres needed both district and regional jurisdiction. They were worried about the backlog courts, and agreed that these ideally needed to be phased out.
Under the heading of Improved access to courts, the Department outlined new courts, including the Mpumalanga High Court but also said that pressing capital projects were hindering maintenance. A detailed list of projects was presented. The full budget for Programme 2 was spent but the High Courts budget was under stress. Members questioned the maintenance projects, with one Member stating that it was surely more efficient to concentrate on revitalizing courts that were already functioning – such as Durban – than build new courts, and wondered if money should not be shifted. They stressed that if courts were not working, the country’s systems were not working. Members also questioned the position of the Office of the Chief Justice, the budgetary allocations of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal and urged that a more realistic budget be given to the latter. They asked for an explanation on how demarcation affected the courts, and what “donations” of land by municipalities meant.
The Chief Operations Officer briefed the Committee on Community Rehabilitation as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). However, there were various challenges around limited information and limited resources, which meant that engagement with communities was necessary. Most of the processes should probably be biased to infrastructure. Although the TRC had made reference to 129 communities, not all could be covered and six elements for consideration, and three options were presented. It was explained that the Department had opted to choose two communities per province, although further consultations might affect the final choice. There would be engagement now with Premiers and municipalities, and a further report would be presented.
Finally, the Committee agreed to request the House for permission to introduce a Committee Bill to extend the operation of the relevant sections of the Black Administration Act that related to traditional courts, for a further three years, pending the finalisation of the Traditional Courts Bill.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that he had received a written apology from Adv Mamiki Shaai, Deputy Public Protector, saying that she had not been informed of the meeting.
Mr J Jeffery (ANC) said that this should be discussed. The Public Protector had advised that she had been on study leave.
The Chairperson also noted that certain information had been received from the Public Protector on the report relating to the Department of Justice, Master’s Office and other entities, and that would be distributed.
Mr J Jeffery (ANC) noted that the Public Protector (PP) had requested the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD or the Department) whether remedial action was being taken, and had called for a progress report. He understood that the matters raised were complex, being multi-departmental, but said that nothing was mentioned in this specific regard.
Ms Nonkuleleko Sindane, Director General, DOJ&CD, noted that she had not had the chance to read the PP’s report. There was a mechanism for responding to the PP issues, via the Constitutional Development branch. In January 2012 the Public Protector was asked to arrange for a team, with officials from both entities, to work on all issues. However, there was no sign-off to approve that arrangement.
Dr Khotso de Wee, Chief Operations Officer, DOJ&CD, agreed that nothing had been signed off with the PP. Investigations were concentrated around the work of two officials in the President’s Fund and Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The questions asked could be answered, but he undertook to meet with the Public Protector.
Mr Jeffery said that it would be useful to have a written response from the Director-General on the interaction with the PP. One of the remedial actions suggested by the PP was that magistrates should be assisted to help parties access information about the Guardian’s Fund, for instance, that was contained in Annual Reports. This was rather bizarre, and he hoped that there would not be a blanket acceptance of the recommendations, as they may be impractical.
Ms D Schäfer (DA) thought that further discussion was needed, on another occasion, about how departments would deal with recommendations from the PP. She agreed that some unusual recommendations were being made.
The Chairperson noted this point, and stressed, for the benefit of the media, that this Committee must not be regarded as attacking the PP. This Committee was responsible for conducting oversight over both the PP and DOJ&CD, and all entities within the Justice “family”, including Chapter 9 institutions. This Committee had to enquire why so many complaints against the DOJ&CD had been forwarded to the PP, and to ascertain whether there was a problem, as part of the oversight function.
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development: Annual Report 2012: Programmes 1 & 2
Ms Sindane then continued with her presentation of the Annual Report (AR) of the DOJ&CD, from page 67 of the presentation, the point reached on the previous day.
She noted that the Department continued to use ICT as a strategic business enabler to modernise the Department, with much work being devoted to compiling and following an IT strategy. The Department had a large footprint and it had not always been feasible to get information without secure and working IT systems. Over many years, insufficient funding was directed to IT systems and hardware level, and the licenses were unaffordable. A specific strategy, rather than an ad hoc approach, was therefore needed to standardise the systems. DOJ&CD also wanted to move away from using external service providers and create its own pool of IT staff at the systems development level. The Department was aware that in-house capacity could not deliver everything, but the strategy identified how the different areas would be handled. 28 new posts had been created in 2011/12, of which nineteen had already been filled, in the systems development space. There was also engagement with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA)
She reminded Members that the Auditor-General (AG) had commented that some issues were easy to fix; such as password control and log-in policies. The Department was happy that it was now compliant on these kinds of issues.
Ms Sindane noted her appreciation for the budgetary allocations that had assisted the Committee to refresh the IT equipment, and said that the Department was about half-way through that process. One of the risks identified related to the ability to ensure business continuity in the event of an IT disaster. To address this, the Department had moved to using centralised servers. If a court was hit by a disaster, it could still move to another site and access the information. The Telkom Data Centre kept the departmental data in a highly secured environment, and other data backups were kept at Metrofile. All backups were being done daily.
The Department was working on a total risk mitigation strategy, but the budgetary constraints restricted its ability to move. She tabled a detailed list of the hardware to be upgraded in the next two financial years was tabled (see slide 66), and emphasised that additional servers were needed to enhance the speed of delivery of information.
Mr Serati Ntsimane, Head: IT Department, DOJ&CD, explained why and how the decisions had been taken to acquire equipment, which would lead to a better environment. He stressed that the process to replace equipment was ongoing.
Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC) asked how security issues could be integrated into IT, given that around R350 million was being spent on security. She also requested how the asset disposal was handled.
Mr Ntsimane noted that appropriate choices would be taken when equipment needed to be replaced, and this might involve selling or donating to schools. Pockets of IT could already monitor security, but this was a matter of ongoing work.
Ms Pilane-Majake thought that the asset disposal should be listed, in future. She suggested that IT must be fast-tracked, as it would contribute drastically to reducing the costs of security.
Mr Ntsimane then described the development of software systems. Robust applications were needed to help track cases through the system. There had been a focus on matters of high volume, which were Master’s Office deceased estates, and maintenance matters. In the past, scanning of documents was done to produce reports. Now, the IT systems managed the end-to-end processes. SAPS docket integration and case outcome integration was intended to support the Integrated Justice System (IJS). Training was a key area that Justice College would be tracking in future. Some of the systems previously demonstrated were being implemented; the Master’s system had been used in Nelspruit. He explained that in future, papers would be scanned in but instead of a physical file, the cases would be processed through electronic media.
Mr Ntsimane explained that a Master’s Web portal had been created so that individuals could find out information online, such as the identity of an executor. There was also integration with Department of Home Affairs (the MOVIT system) to integrate Guardian’s Fund money.
In relation to the strategy and operating model, usage of systems had to be addressed. The percentage of lower courts with deployed Integrated Case Management Systems (ICMS) systems had dropped to 55%, because of the challenges experienced. Ageing infrastructure had made it very frustrating for officials, but the new equipment should address the problem. The reliance on outsiders in the past had delayed changes being effected, but internal appointment would speed up this process. Training within the Department was also needed, and a framework had been put together, with Justice College and the Business Application Training unit.
Justice Modernisation Project
Ms Sindane moved on to the Justice Modernisation Project. The Department had noted the direction given by the AG, and it would make information available. The Integrated Justice System (IJS) Board had not, over the past few years, been given sufficient attention by the JCPS Cluster, with the result that technocrats had developed systems that did not necessarily meet departmental needs. In July 2011, the IJS Board had been asked specifically to address the problem that it was not possible to generate reports quickly enough.
She confirmed that some of the systems were working, but the challenges that each department faced were very different. It was resolved that the matter must be moved from the Development Committee, to become a direct sub-structure of the Cluster, that systems developers must be brought back in, and that the budget must be properly managed, with a re-working of the plan to address the key projects that would work for everyone. Each department was to produce monthly reports, and the Cluster would compile reports on the performance of each department. That was now happening, albeit slowly. The budget was being managed at Cluster level. Mr Godfrey Leseba was appointed as coordinator. Reports were submitted to Cabinet on the eight outcomes of Priority 3.
Mr Godfrey Leseba, Chief Director: IJS, DOJ&CD, reported that five key priorities were identified. One had been the integration of cases. The Cluster had concluded pilot projects on the transmission of cases from SAPS to DOJ&CD, and in this year the further rollout of those systems had started. Integrated Case Management Systems (ICMS) were conducted in the Benoni and Cullinan Court districts. To date, the Video Arraignment Solution (with the Department of Correctional Service) had been rolled out to 47 courts, linked to 18 correctional facilities.
The five priorities were set out more fully on slide 70. He noted how these systems allowed for vetting of persons, which would include criminal record checks and checking of the Sexual Offenders Register. DOJ&CD had previously been able to track cases, but had not had the ability to link all cases relating to one person. This was now possible, and tracking of other information, such as their bank details, was also possible. Case management systems were rolled to 20 courts and 99 police stations. The “docket ready” pilot was currently in action. The IJS business intelligence was geared to collection of data, based on events in each department. This should create an overview of how the Cluster was performing, which would enable decisions to be made as to where more employment or training was needed. The single Criminal Justice System (CJS) database was being created, as a longer-term goal, and more data was being provided as systems were improved. This project should begin in the 2013/14 financial year. However, there was still a challenge in that systems in departments were not yet at the same level.
Ms Smuts asked if the term “business people” in the presentation referred to heads of department.
Ms Sindane responded that at some point in the CJS Review process, people from private businesses were seconded to work with the DOJ&CD. However, in this context, “business people” did mean those in the operations (business) side of the DOJ&CD
Ms Schäfer noted that the system had first been proposed about twelve years ago. She questioned how, at this stage, it was still possible that SAPS could have different systems from those of other Cluster departments. She asked whether this issue was being addressed.
Ms M Smuts (DA) confirmed that Cabinet had adopted the 7-point plan in 2007. She shared Ms Schäfer’s frustrations and said that all that had been described today was in previous reports. There had not been sufficient Directors-General on the Board.
Mr Leseba confirmed that the IJS programme was conceptualised after the National Crime Prevention Strategy adopted by Cabinet in 1996. The Board was set up a few years later.
Ms Schäfer wanted details of how much was allocated, and how much was spent.
The Chairperson noted that his request to the AG’s office was based on concerns from the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, who said that the briefing by the SAPS on this point had appeared positive, but there was a lot still needed. A number of departments were involved. He asked if the budget resided with DOJ&CD, if other role-players would get their allocations from National Treasury, and whether the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboard came from the same budget.
Ms Sindane noted that she would provide a report on the budgets, but she would also commit to writing formally to the Cluster, to request that they should make information available to the AG, and prepare for a meeting with this Committee.
Mr Leseba added that several departments were involved in budgeting. National Treasury allocated funds to two votes: one to the SAPS Vote, which would take care of the SAPS sub-programme and the IJS Transversal Hub sub-programme. The other Vote was allocated to the DOJ&CD, and a portion of that budget was then allocated to other departments, including Department of Social Development, Legal Aid and others. Other departments would spend and reclaim from DOJ&CD.
Mr Jeffery agreed that another meeting was needed when all the roleplayers were present, such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and SAPS. Part of the difficulty may be that there was insufficient understanding, in the general justice sector, about IT, but if the database figures were not talking to each other, then matters would be very difficult.
Mr Leseba noted that the NPA prosecutors were currently housed in the DOJ&CD courts, and were using the DOJ infrastructure for their core business solutions, including the Electronic Case Management System (ECMS). It was linked to the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) in the DOJ, and the Case Administration System (CAS) at SAPS. The needs had been identified. Development of the system was completed, and it was now being tested. It would be deployed to 20 pre-identified courts, hopefully by the end of the financial year. In relation to the SAPS programmes, DOJ&CD was largely satisfied on progress. The visibility of the programme had been enhanced. Cooperation was improving and the right people with decision-making powers were on the Board.
Mr Jeffery asked that in future reports all IT acronyms be explained.
Mr Jeffery congratulated the Department on its compliance with Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAIA) requirements, including publication on the website. However, the figures did not add up, as 792 requests were made and 141 had been granted, but only 12 were noted as refused.
Ms Lebo Mphahlele-Ntsasa, Chief Director: Strategy, Monitoring and Evaluation, DOJ&CD, replied that some matters were still under investigation, and this explained the discrepancy in the figures. She conceded that better reporting on all cases was needed in the AR.
Mr Jeffery asked if the 47 magistrates courts and 22 correctional facilities could be listed. He also wanted a sense of the numbers, per court, and, if possible, the savings achieved by video remands.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on how many magistrates courts there were. He wondered when all courts would be reached.
Ms Sindane and Mr Leseba confirmed that the names and the numbers of cases dealt with would be submitted in writing.
Mr Jeffery noted that the pilot project for the PVA would begin in October 2012, but wanted more of a sense of where the project would be run. In respect of docket integration at 20 courts and 19 police stations, he requested a report on which courts were involved, and an update on how this was working.
Mr Jeffery asked what “completed” meant, in relation to the rollout, and whether everyone had the system.
Mr Jeffery noted that slide 71 listed matters not yet determined. However, the single database had been requested for a long time; he thought that therefore more detail was needed, in writing, as it would be worrying if the pilot sites had not even been identified. He commented that the Committee had, over a number of years, been unable to rely on dates provided by the Department, as they tended to shift.
Mr Leseba wanted to put all matters in context. The Single CJS database was linked to the 28 key performance indicators. At this stage, gradual implementation was being done. The FTP protocols were being used to put the information into the transversal hub, from each of the participating systems. However, that was dependent on development of the systems within the participating departments. At this point, the building of a common database was not justified. He explained that information would have to be delivered in an “event-driven way” rather than collating the information, in a report, after the event, and that in future it was intended that the information could be accessed by any authorised officials from any department.
Mr Jeffery again asked when this was likely to happen. He said that surely statistics were coming in every day. There were problems in relation to child justice, where the Committee had been given different figures for those arrested by the police, and those who were logged into the criminal justice system. He also commented that the former Deputy Minister of Justice had also raised the point of a single case number being allocated, from arrest through to Correctional Services.
Mr Leseba said that the journey of modernising the CJS was ongoing. It was not possible to deal with the matters overnight. These were complex programmes, involving a number of departments with different mandates. Not all departments had been moving at the same pace.
In relation to the “single numbering” database, he confirmed that there was a plan, but as yet nobody had been appointed with the specific skills to deal with the matter. The issue of business intelligence was another concern. He would be reluctant to publicly commit to a certain deadline, especially as this would mean making a commitment on behalf of other departments. He was happy to provide details of the plan, but cautioned that delays in one area would have a ripple effect on others.
Ms Schäfer thought that the plan had to be provided. It seemed that there was not enough certainty about when it would be implemented or concluded, and this emphasised the necessity for a joint meeting with other departments.
Mr Jeffery thought the matter could not be taken further at the moment. However, he emphasised that Ms Sindane should convey to other departments that dates would be expected.
Adv Pieter du Randt, Chief Director: Court Services, added that the Durban demonstration of possibilities some years back had shown a potential direction for the sector. That had developed to the 7-point plan that was presented in 2007/08, to provide common information, and that in turn led to the 28 Key Performance Indicators across the whole criminal justice system. However, he stressed that the question of tracking of an individual was another matter. Performance management was sitting separately from other systems. Single computer languages had been developed to extract data through the hubs.
Mr Jeffery also sought confirmation as to what the figure of deployed ICMS systems had been, prior to the drop to 55%. He asked for more detail of what the challenges were, whether these were linked to infrastructure or inability to use the technology, and said that more detail was needed on the training and to whom it was offered.
Mr Leseba noted that there were a number of reasons for the decline in use. One reason was the unwillingness of officials to move to using the systems, as they found it quicker to check a written document, then file it for later attention, rather than to scan it and then follow the steps that were required by the system for further immediate input. They did not appreciate the eventual benefits from IT systems, but instead focused on the fact that extra time was needed at the initial stages. There were also problems around outdated equipment. All those who were supposed to use the technology were being trained.
Mr Jeffery noted that Ms Pilane-Majake had raised the question of security, and asked how people could be prevented from hacking in and changing records. He asked if access points would be thoroughly secure.
Mr Ntsimane noted that security standards had been put in place, and most systems had in-built audit trails. However, he made the point that no system could ever be said to be totally secure.
The Chairperson sought clarity on what “arraignment” meant and whether it would include bail.
Ms Schäfer wanted to know if Cape Town Court had the Video Postponement system, and questioned why inmates were being transported to Cape Town Court from Pollsmoor.
Mr Jeffery asked if prisoners being transported were for remand or trial.
Mr Hishaam Mohamed, Regional Head: Western Cape, DOJ&CD reported that the pilot project was done in Mitchells Plain, but subsequently introduced into Cape Town and Wynberg. However, there had been problems with fibreoptic cable theft, and this meant that for a time the systems were not working. He noted the numbers of cases handled (but was largely inaudible on this point). Most of the projects seemed to be successful. However, it must be remembered that the initiative was to a large extent dependent on what the DCS could provide, from its side and from its budget, and the procurement processes for the equipment had to be followed by all departments. He also said that the system was voluntary at the moment and was to a large degree dependent on whether attorneys for the defence agreed to the video postponements. Whilst it might be expected that they would welcome the opportunity not to wait at court, in reality this was one of the few chances that the attorneys had to consult with their clients.
Service Delivery Improvements
Ms Sindane noted that the Service Charter and Standards were outlined by the Minister in March 2012. The implementation was being rolled out in stages. 50 officials had been trained on lean management principles. Although the DOJ&CD was finalising the cases reported to the Presidential Hotline cases, with 83% finalised since inception, it was not always meeting the target to finalise these within 30 days. She explained that, in hindsight, the 30 day target was perhaps not realistic, because many of the cases involved court processes.
Ms Sindane noted that the Department had implemented coordination interventions both externally and in-house. From an external viewpoint it had invested in television, radio and media programmes. An overall listenership of R1.7 million was reached thought the radio programmes. Other activities had included participatory efforts through Women’s Month, an initiative that also involved South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA) and educational media supplements to communicate how the DOJ&CD was attempting to address gender-based violence. The assistance of the Committee was noted with the Prins matter. The National Register for Sex Offenders was launched, including a school campaign. A media campaign was also launched on the Truth and Reconciliation Campaign tracing of beneficiaries. She also noted concerns about gay and lesbian matters.
Most of the public participation programmes had a special focus on maintenance and Master’s services, both intestate and small estates, which was deliberate focus, since these were the areas where people not in conflict with the law needed legal services. The Departmental website and online social media were used, with over 844 000 hits to the website. DOJ&CD experts were also involved in weekly radio phone-in programmes.
Ms Smuts asked why, at the moment, the Witness Protection programme was still under the NPA, since this was an area that properly resided with the DOJ&CD, and the NPA had indicated that it would gladly give it over.
Ms Sindane said that she had had discussions with the Minister and agreed upon what was required for management of this programme, but it was also agreed that this was in fact far more complex than what was currently in place. The NPA had handled the programme well. There was recognition that at some stage the matter would have to be taken back, but no date for this was decided upon.
Ms Smuts referred to allegations that in a particular area a Court Manager had been “selling” jobs, and that a Regional Head was compliant in this, and had failed to take action. She asked for comment.
Ms Emily Dlamini, Regional Head: Gauteng DOJ, noted that this matter was reported to her by a court interpreter, and an investigator had been provided by the Western Cape. Eight of the cases linked to selling of jobs had been finalised. Five officials and 15 magistrates were dismissed, including the Court Manager in Market Street, and the Area Court Manager for Johannesburg. One case remained outstanding.
Ms Smuts said that she had previously discussed with the Director General a case in which a DOJ official had complained that she was being victimised as a result of having reported matters. The second concern related to the Regional Manager involved, again whom disciplinary charges had also apparently been confirmed. Advocate Rudman was apparently placed in charge of the investigations. Ms Smuts asked for an update, and made the point that it was often the case in South Africa that whistleblowers would find themselves victimised.
Ms Sindane clarified that in fact Adv Rudman had not done an investigation, but had been approached, at a late stage of the proceedings, to go through the reports and verify all the information. He had made certain recommendations, which were currently under consideration.
In general, Ms Sindane confirmed that a whistleblower protection policy was in place, and whistleblowers were protected, to the best ability of the DOJ&CD. In this case, the complainant was correct in that adequate protection had not been afforded to her. Ms Sindane had communicated with a number of people to whom the matter was reported, and had asked Dr de Wee to deal with the matter, and he too had a number of meetings. The complainant was protected at the office but she had been reluctant to agree to security services supporting her outside the office.
Ms Smuts noted that potential employees were being fingerprinted, and she wondered if this was not contrary to existing or intended laws for protection of personal information. She also asked what would happen once those fingerprints were run through the database. Although SAPS took fingerprints, this was related to suspects.
Ms Sindane responded that the DOJ&CD was entitled to do the fingerprinting, not under the Criminal Procedure Act, but in the security environment. She later confirmed that this was done under the National Intelligence Act, and the Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS) guidelines, since employees were required to be vetted. People would, when applying, be asked if they had any criminal record, and the fingerprints verified the information provided in response.
Ms Smuts noted that the MISS guidelines were not legislation.
The Chairperson thought that this point would have to be looked at.
Ms Sindane said that the real point was whether this was being done to address an evil. If the legislation in Parliament did not provide a minimum “buffer”, the question arose as to what should be done to enable the DOJ&CD to do the correct vetting.
The Chairperson said that perhaps it would be preferable to have legislation residing under the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) rather than the Department of State Security (DSS), for this was not a matter that fell under state security.
Mr Jeffery pointed out that this was to be distinguished from security clearance at a certain level, which was done by the State Security Agency. He was not sure why the DSS was involved, as this had more to do with checking criminal records, and agreed that this was a public service issue.
The Chairperson said that this was his concern about valuable information.
Ms Sindane agreed that ideally such vetting should reside within DPSA. However, this procedure was merely preliminary to getting security clearance, if this was needed. The AG had insisted on at least the minimum process being in place. The State Security Agency told the departments to take over the responsibilities themselves as they were unable to deal with clearances. This might explain why the National Intelligence Act was being used.
Mr Jeffery said that advertisements for positions may need to specify that applicants would have to agreed to undergo security procedures.
The Chairperson asked how far down the chain security clearances would be required.
Mr Jeffery made the point that it would be undesirable for judicial officers to be blackmailed, for instance, and agreed that even lower-level staff may need to be checked
Ms Sindane noted that anyone coming into contact with Top Secret documents would have to have that level of clearance. However, in general, Top Secret clearances would generally apply from Director General to Chief Directors (or, in some instances, Director) level. Secretarial and support staff may have to have clearance also, depending on the nature of their work. From level 12 downwards, clearances related to function and not level. She noted that there was a degree of paranoia, leading to the expectation that more should be vetted than before, because of high levels of fraud and corruption. The AG was not focusing so much on entry level.
The Chairperson said that this was something that perhaps needed to be debated at a later stage.
The Chairperson asked for details on the SAWLA website.
Ms Smuts said that it would be useful for the Department also to provide assistance on lost trial records, which formed the subject of numerous complaints addressed to MPs.
Ms Sindane noted that the Regional Head: Gauteng was dealing with some of the records lost, which had been discovered when people wanted to appeal. There were also matters referred through the South African Human Rights Commission or the Public Protector. There had also been work on matters identified by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), and many magistrates had assisted. She noted, however, that some people had claimed loss of records when they were trying to find a cheap or easy route to appeal, or where they may not have complied with the time limits.
Ms Dlamini gave an indication of the numbers. 417 records were recorded as missing, from South Gauteng, Evershed, and Johannesburg. Some were identified from private complaints, and others from a joint initiative that involved the Director of Public Prosecutions in South Gauteng and Legal Aid South Africa (LASA). Ten had incorrect case numbers. Some had been transferred to other courts. In all, about 93% of the matters had been successfully traced and transcribed, and around 49 remained to be finalised. The research was continuing.
Ms Pilane-Majake said that she had concerns about reconstruction and transcribing, as it could affect the accuracy and legitimacy of those records. It had been suggested that a variety of sources should be consulted to reconstruct.
Ms Dlamini responded that the process was dealt with by four different service providers, including Sneller and other transcription services. She clarified that in most cases, information was not being accessed from the lawyers, but from the tape-recordings of the court proceedings, which were now converted to DVDs and CDs, which meant that original court proceedings were being used. In only four cases was a reconstruction without tapes necessary, and here there would be reliance on the judge’s and prosecutors’ notes. The search was continuing and she was happy that the information for the reconstruction was reliable.
Mr T Malema, Acting Deputy Director General: Court Services, DOJ&CD, indicated that the reconstruction was a last resort.
Ms Schäfer asked that the defence attorneys should also have input into the reconstruction.
Ms Dlamini said there would be this engagement, but the first point of engagement was the Judge-President. Most of the cases were Legal Aid cases.
Budget Outcomes: Programme 1
Mr Johan Johnson, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DOJ&CD, reminded Members that the overall budget and performance indicators had been given on the previous day. Programme1: Administration, was mainly to do with support services. R1.8 billion was spent on this programme. R1.2 billion related to goods and services. He explained that the line item for Departmental Agencies and Accounts referred to the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) skills levies. The Department also made a contribution to the International Criminal Court, which was listed under “Foreign Gov and International”. The line item for machinery, equipment and motor vehicles included expenditure on court security, which was substantially more than the previous year. He then presented a year-on-year comparison. The increases in personnel costs were directly related to increased appointments. There was, overall, a 4.9 % decline in expenditure. One area of non-compliance was that nothing was spent on Department Agencies, and this was because the SETA levies were not paid in this year, but this would be adjusted in the following year. Again, he noted increases for court security. Slide 70 included details of Ministry support staff and executive management. Corporate services was divided into IT, public education, communication, finance, HR and security. R1.1 billion was spent in this regard, and the office accommodation figure was broken down. Finally, he tabled a pie chart showing a breakdown of the expenses. The largest portion was on property payments and security services.
Ms Pilane-Majake questioned why there was no amount shown for buildings.
Mr Johnson explained that there had been spending, but it would be displayed under Court Services.
Programme 2 presentation
Ms Sindane noted the six strategic objectives under Programme 2, which was essentially intended to facilitate resolution of criminal, civil and family law disputes by providing accessible, efficient and quality administrative support by DOJ&CD to the courts.
Outcomes 3 of the JCPS Delivery Agreement related to all people being and feeling safe in the country. There were eight outputs to report against, but not all of those were for the DOJ&CD, although this Department was responsible for coordination of the Cluster. The most relevant for DOJ itself was finalisation of cases in the backlog roll.
In 2011/12 the strategic objectives included a reduction in the criminal cases backlog, with a focus on regional and district courts where the greatest attention was needed. Interventions were made in all courts, including increasing the backlog-handling sites, and converting Acting appointments to permanent posts. The number of backlog cases had decreased, and the target was to keep them at less than 37 000 cases. She noted that this essentially meant that, year on year, the closing number of cases in the year must be reduced. She reminded Members that revolving numbers were an issue. From 2009/10 there were 41 828 backlog cases, and in 2010/11, there were 30 034, and currently there were 35 026 against the target of 36 296. The reduction was not, however, moving fast enough, and fundamental changes were still needed. She showed a table showing the backlog cases from November 2006 to date, with the total backlogs having been reduced by 59 232. The Chief Justice’s interventions to drive case flow management should yield further results.
Mr Jacob Skosana, State Law Advisor/ Chief Director, DOJ&CD, noted that the Code of Conduct had just been published in the Government Gazette. That should also result in a reduction in reserved judgments, and any non-compliance would have to be reported to the Judicial Services Commission. The same Codes would also apply to magistrates.
Ms Sindane said that the Maintenance Turnaround project consisted of various elements. Systems had been developed to improve service delivery and enable the DOJ&CD to track performance from first registration of cases. Front line staff had been trained on how to offer improved services, and to know where to get assistance with certain problems. Process improvements were also being considered, throughout the value chain. She noted that the DOJ&CD had recently won an award for lean management. Turnaround in payments should reduce losses and build a portfolio of evidence. 65% of the deliverables for this project were achieved.
The finalisation of the “lean management” sites had been delayed through procurement challenges and delays in appointment of additional maintenance officials. She explained that lean management was being implemented with the help of an organisation supported by an academic institution in the Western Cape, but this was specifically not put out to tender, because the DOJ&CD wanted to cut wastages and establish standardised systems. Officials who had been contracted in were being phased into another structure.
A chart showing the implementation of the Maintenance Turnaround Project was noted (see slide 7). Ms Sindane said that problems in theft of equipment at courts had been addressed. The Project Kha Ri Unde dealt with service point improvements, including mediation at pilot sites, and signage. Lean management had been completed at one pilot site, in Temba, where there had been huge problems, but procurement for the other sites was not done. A further seven were, however, completed in the 2012/13 year, and officials had implemented significantly improved maintenance operations, but other systemic problems that required deeper input still had to be addressed.
The Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs) were intended to cut down on queues, and by the end of the financial year, 103 courts and 95 000 beneficiaries were benefiting from this, which was on target. EFT was implemented at head office and courts level, and she explained that de-centralisation was done to regions that showed readiness to speed up processes. Ms Sindane made unannounced visits to courts, and had for herself seen a huge reduction in queues.
Protection of Vulnerable Groups
Ms Sindane then turned to protection of Vulnerable Groups, and said that electronic systems were being introduced. In the 2011/12 financial year, the names in the Sexual Offender Register (SOR) had been increased to 2 340. SAPS, but not other departments, had sent through a further 39 684 offender names for possible inclusion in the SOR, but this was “unpurified” information, because it was merely a list of names, but not the offences or the victims. DOJ&CD had therefore embarked on finding and tracking those matters, and not all the names would find their way on to the SOR. Detailed publicity campaigns, including how to get access to the SOR, were carried out.
Ms Sindane recalled the problems with the development on the National Policy Framework on Sexual Offences (the Framework). There were still limitations, despite substantial work that led to the tabling of the Framework in Parliament. The witness testifying rooms had been improved. The Ministerial Task Team had researched the efficacy of the Sexual Offences Courts, and had submitted a report in August 2012. This Task Team had considered the history and made recommendations for the future. The Minister had not yet made a decision on the Report, which was essentially saying that more preparatory work was needed before making final recommendations. Information about budgets and numbers were not included.
DOJ&CD had a responsibility to establish One-Stop Child Justice Centres (OSCJC), and had planned, but did not achieve them, in Eastern Cape and North West. Far more investment was needed than originally anticipated, and DOJ&CD was not sure whether alternatives should not be investigated in Eastern Cape. Work was needed at an intersectoral level in North West, because of concurrency problems around Ministers named in the Child Justice Act). The OSCJC should be achieved in North West in 2012/13.
The targets for Family Advocates were not achieved. Reasons included staff shortages, especially of mediators, and the small footprint in all regions, as well as the increase in mandate and the extension of the work to lower courts. Figures were given of cases handled over the past two years (see slide 11). DOJ&CD had not considered the restructuring of this Office, but was intending to do so.
Improved access to courts
Ms Sindane outlined the new courts under construction, but noted that no repair and maintenance projects were undertaken because of pressing capital projects. She gave an update on the Mpumalanga High Court, and the progress made by the Department of Public Works (DPW).
Ms Tshilidizi Ramanyimi, Chief Director: Facilities Management, DOJ&CD, took the Committee through the slides displaying progress in specific courts, some of which had been addressed in previous years. The reasons for delays had agreed compliance with new building regulations, cash flow problems, finalisation of land issues, and revised scope of work.
Ms Sindane noted that three courts were converted from branch courts to full-service courts, bringing the number of conversions to 18, so this issue would soon be finalised. She noted that there were delays in Attridgeville, around the jurisdiction for Diepsloot. The other six courts should be completed in the current financial year. The process to align magisterial districts with local municipal boundaries was not finalised, as further consultative processes were needed, and this also depended on the finalisation of the Superior Courts Bill.
In relation to the Small Claims Courts (SCC) establishment, DOJ&CD had a target of establishing 30, but only managed 23. The main problem was attracting commissioners to act pro bono. Legal Aid South Africa had offered assistance. Security of the courts, at night, was another issue. 195 new commissioners, 8 ad hoc commissioner and 185 advisory board members were appointed, and eight courts that had formerly been non-operational had been revived by appointment of the commissioners. She tabled the 23 courts established (see slide 17). This was providing access to justice to users, and alleviating the burden that might otherwise fall on the Magistrate’s Courts.
Budget Outcomes for Programme 2
Mr Johnson noted that the full budget of R4.2 billion was spent. However, the High Courts were under strain. The decrease in goods and services was of concern, but this was because of budget cuts. The Constitutional Court budget was R120 million, but the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) was budgeted R20 million, which was largely to do with its lower personnel establishment, and the fact that the Constitutional Court also funded judicial education and travel. The lower courts received the largest allocation of R2.5 billion. He tabled proportional expenditure showing that the largest related to travel and subsistence, of R336 million, but which related to staff travelling between courts.
Mr Jeffery reiterated his previous doubts as to whether the backlog courts were working. Even though the target was met, the backlog was still too high. He hoped that the case flow management systems would address this. However, he also noted that the Wits Justice Project had said that many of the delays were caused by DOJ&CD officials themselves, and he wondered if there was any record of the disciplinary action taken in such instances.
Mr T Malema, Acting Deputy Director General: Court Services, DOJ&CD, said that there were requirements around a dress code, and attendance registers in the courts were also enforced, indicating court officials’ times for clocking in and out. There was training given to court managers on disciplinary procedures, and employees, after having been trained, would then receive warnings if they failed to comply. In some cases, disciplinary steps had resulted in payment being withheld.
Mr Jeffery commented that lack of working equipment was another problem. Mr Jeffery asked if all Regional Court managers had signed performance agreements, and pointed out that they had a major role to play in whether different components in the justice system were operating in harmony with each other. He commented that there was not impressive performance in Gauteng South, and he believed that another visit was needed to that Court.
Ms Dlamini noted that some of the courts in the Gauteng region were being revamped but would welcome a follow up on the Committee’s previous visits.
Mr Jeffery noted that the Public Protector was doing an evaluation on maintenance. NPA had maintenance prosecutors, and DOJ&CD had maintenance lawyers, and he feared that this posed the potential for conflict, particularly if there was insufficient communication. The Regional Heads of Courts would be key to bringing these together.
Mr Malema said that the possible conflict was being checked, but confirmed that these officials did deal with different issues at both entities.
Mr Jeffery clarified that the problems seemed to be around the distribution of the work. He was not asking so much about demarcation of roles but coordination, and was suggesting that perhaps NPA and the Provincial Heads of Courts had to discuss how they were working.
Mr Jeffery asked if the DOJ&CD had considered whether it was necessary to have a Child Protection Register as well as a Sexual Offenders Register.
Ms Schäfer also thought that one Register would be sufficient. She hoped that DOJ&CD was addressing the issue that the information received from SAPS, in relation to the sexual offenders, was unusable in its present form. Furthermore, she said that when DOJ&CD had given a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, there was an indication that there was uncertainty as to when the names of offenders should be entered on to the Register, which seemed to indicate that magistrates were not including the relevant Order in this regard. This was a point that clearly had to be addressed with the judiciary and magistrates.
Mr Malema noted that there had been meetings with the Department of Social Development, and some preliminary research into the question of the two Registers had been done, in preparation for a comprehensive recommendation as to what was needed, and how the Register should look and function, which hopefully should be done in the next month.
Mr Jeffery asked what criteria determined where the One-Stop Child Justice Centres would be set up. In Port Elizabeth, there had been many “turf wars” between departments. The highest concentration of children in conflict with the law was surely in the cities, and for this reason he wondered why two were planned in Eastern Cape, which was a largely rural province.
Mr Malema said that DOJ&CD was largely guided by availability of space in the Department of Social Development (DSD) offices where the OSCJC were set up. He took the point about children in the urban setting but said that access was also needed in the rural areas.
Mr Jeffery reiterated that there were generally less pressures on the youth in the rural areas, and generally more parental control. In addition, the sites of centres should be based on volumes of cases, instead of on ad hoc decisions. He would have thought there was a great need in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Ms Pilane-Majake enquired about the OSCJC at Khayelethemba, and how much would be required to bring this facility to the required level. She also asked if other role players were involved.
Mr Hishaam Mohamed, Regional Head: Western Cape, DOJ&CD, said that the OSCJCs had been under discussion for many years. A special committee met monthly, chaired by the Director of Public Prosecutions. In fact, the number of children incarcerated in Cape Town was quite low. Management of children in conflict with the law was critical from a Cluster perspective, and there were similar needs in all areas. In Western Cape, many of the matters were drug-related, not necessarily only relating to use or possession but with a spillover in the violence around drugs. Western Cape had, in the past, made use of spaces at the DSD facilities, and the former Schools of Industry, but it was possible to look at the planning again.
Mr Jeffery noted that the OSCJC could not consider matters of regional jurisdiction, and wondered whether consideration had been given to giving them both regional and lower court jurisdiction.
Mr Skosana said that the OSCJC would have to be determined as the seat of a regional court, which could be done in future, but it must be borne in mine that there could be budget implications, if the magistrates were to be remunerated at Regional Court level, and that a magistrate without an LLB degree would not be able to deal with those matters.
Mr Jeffery thought that this was already being done in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
Mr Skosana said that consultation was needed with the Regional Court President, and it could be done for those 22 centres.
Mr Jeffery was worried to hear that no repairs and maintenance were being undertaken. Cases could not flow, if necessary equipment in the courts was in disrepair. He also commented that there were problems in how the numbers of courts needed were being determined. He pointed out that there was a difference between constructing new courts that would lead to economic activity in the sense of creating construction jobs, but other equally important maintenance jobs which, whilst not providing as much employment, were actually contributing to the long-term effective administration of the justice system and therefore the country. Perhaps the building of new courts should be seen as lesser priority than, for instance, fixing the problems in the existing courts in Durban. This was probably something that the Committee needed to debate further. He would still like to hear the criteria for building new courts. He also questioned what the problem was with the NPA in Pietermaritzburg, pointing out that there were vacant buildings that could surely have been used to house NPA.
Ms Ramanyimi clarified that a maintenance project termed RAMP was formerly in place, managed through DPW. The figures in the slides were not intended to indicate that no maintenance at all was being done. Minor maintenance was proceeding, but it was no longer under the RAMP project. Some was done under other planned maintenance projects, through DPW. She would be able to provide a schedule. DPW had not replaced the RAMP with any other programme.
Mr Jeffery asked if the Durban High Court air-conditioners were fixed.
Ms Ramanyimi noted that a rehabilitation programme had been funded, in this financial year, for rehabilitation at Durban. However, although this was registered with DPW, DPW had not yet published the tender, which effectively meant that no work had started.
Ms Ramanyimi then clarified that the need for accommodation was determined in line with the need to improve accessibility where no courts had existed previously. However, in view of the huge increase in the workload, it was clear that more offices and courts would be needed also in areas where courts were already in existence. One criterion, which she conceded was not ideal and would need to be reconsidered, was based on the hours that courts sat. DOJ&CD had tried to look for alternative accommodation for the NPA in Pietermaritzburg. The former Magistrate’s Court had been re-vamped and was now fully utilised. The only option was in fact to build.
Ms Ramanyimi noted Mr Jeffery’s concern over the new building projects, and said that in theory, it might be possible to stop the projects and divert the funding elsewhere. However, this would not address the fundamental issue that there was a need for all the buildings. Perhaps more debate was needed on whether the DOJ&CD needed to own buildings, in order to operate the courts. There was a need to increase the footprint and the capacity. The balance of priorities perhaps needed engagement with different role players, including National Treasury and Department of Public Works. The current split of the allocation was 85% to capital works and 15% for leases.
Mr Jeffery noted that in some small towns, the numbers of court cases were actually decreasing. Although he took the point about the need to increase the DOJ&CD footprint, it was possible that some entities, such as Legal Aid South Africa, could be accommodated in smaller premises. The question was whether there was sufficient money to maintain the existing courts and the Director-General had indicated that there was not. He again stressed that if courts were not working, the country’s systems were not working.
Ms Schäfer asked if DOJ&CD could submit a projection on how much would be needed for courts and maintenance, as this would be needed for the Budget Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR). She noted that it was unlikely that all funding would be granted at once, and it should be phased over several years.
Ms Ramanyimi said that the rehabilitation was properly more important than the maintenance. A condition assessment was done in 2009, which then identified the need for R2.1 billion spending, but much of that work was not done, being deferred, and the figure would need to be increased. She confirmed that she would send the figures.
Ms Sindane agreed that there were serious needs for planning not only of physical construction, but migration of staff. Ideally, DOJ&CD needed a lot more resources in this area. DPW had been asked whether DOJ&CD should not, internally, have its own level of skills for project management (such as engineers), but from a realistic standpoint, DOJ&CD could not achieve this immediately, but possibly only over the longer term.
Ms Schäfer referred to the expenditure, noting that whilst 107% had been spent for Administration, there were 1 400 vacancies in Court Services. She wondered if there was a deliberate strategy not to fill these posts.
Mr Johnson said that there was no such strategy.
Ms Schäfer said she agreed with Mr Jeffery that ideally, backlog courts should not be needed. However, she was not sure that case management alone would result in a decrease in the backlogs.
Mr du Randt agreed that the backlog courts should ideally be phased out, but then they needed to be replaced by more permanent courts. He noted that there were about 80 backlog courts operating in areas where the numbers of backlogs were high, and of long-standing. DOJ&CD had looked at court rolls to establish what would be required. In some areas there were simply too few magistrates, and extra capacity was needed. The backlog courts had stabilised the Roll, and had also given other courts the ability to deal more efficiently with the matters that were then spread better. As mentioned, temporary posts would be converted to permanent posts. Intersectoral teams had been set up in each province. There were 59 regional backlog courts, and additional outsiders were helping.
Ms Schäfer noted, and officially congratulated the Department on achieving a Lean Management award.
Ms Schäfer questioned why no figures were included in the AR for maintenance matters, and she queried what the five systemic problems were.
Ms Pilane-Majake also noted that personnel attitudes and conditions at Maintenance Courts were still poor.
Ms Sindane said that this had been briefly considered earlier; the need for improved etiquette and courtesy was being addressed by the Service Charter. The public service had recently received much negative attention, and change management would not happen overnight. She regretted that some officials were still not treating the public properly.
Ms Pilane-Majake questioned how the quantum of maintenance awards was justified by the courts. She also commented that tracing was important, and it might be possible to report defaulters to Immigration Services. She thought that a principle should be established that a parent liable for maintenance should be forced to reduce his/her own living expenses to ensure that the child was receiving a fair amount for maintenance.
Ms Sindane said that this was a process issue and a maintenance beneficiary dissatisfied with an award could request a review. Those parties liable for maintenance may have become better at negotiating for less, but it would be impossible for the courts to determine that a set amount of maintenance must apply in all cases. She agreed that maintenance investigators needed to do a diligent job in investigating the assets and ability to pay, and that would be addressed by training. She agreed that tracing was an important issue, and it could include Customs and South African Revenue Services. Some investigators had managed to go quite far in having hidden funds discovered or pensions attached.
Ms Schäfer said the Australian system of maintenance might be quite useful to consider, as it was linked to the amounts earned.
Ms Schäfer asked what empowered the municipalities to donate land to the DOJ&CD.
Ms Ramanyimi said this related to circumstances where land was identified that belonged to a province or municipality, in which it might be possible to negotiate for “free transfer” from one state entity to another. DOJ&CD would only purchase if it could not find suitably-located state-owned land. It was not actually a donation, but a process of transferring ownership. It involved land only, not land and buildings.
Ms Smuts noted that the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) was currently funded under the Constitutional Court, and asked in what amount. The DOJ&CD and National Treasury needed to consider this situation. The setting up of the new independent judicial branch was moving well, and in the right direction, but she was concerned about the budgeting. She questioned whether NT believed that the Office of the Chief Justice should have more powers, and that the High Courts should be included in the budget. This Committee would have to decide what money should be allocated there, and she said that perhaps some other funding may be moved. She urged that the OCJ be established as soon as possible.
Mr Johnson said that only a portion of the total Constitutional Court budget related to the private office of the OCJ.
Mr de Wee confirmed that NT was not saying that OCJ should get more powers. There was a provision that certain functions be transferred, as he had mentioned on the previous day. NT was checking whether OCJ was ready to take on the responsibilities, and had wondered if it should not only take on SCA and Constitutional Court, but also High Courts establishment. He agreed that, as a transitional measure, the OCJ was set up as a department. A report had been delivered by Constitutional Court judges Lange and Chaskalson. For the moment, the whole budget for High Courts was to be allocated to the OCJ, although the details were being worked on and the figures checked to ensure that the whole budget was transferred.
Mr Skosana said that it was also necessary to ensure that the enactment of the Superior Courts Bill, midstream, would not mean a budgetary mismatch. The regulatory framework was under the Public Service Act. The President had promulgated OCJ as one of the institutions that had separate existence and identity, but the Minister for the Public Service and Administration had allowed for certain conditions out of the ordinary, which allowed the Chief Justice, for instance, to have more say around the appointment of staff and the budget. Three Judges and one Minister formed a panel for appointment of the Secretary General of the OCJ, to ensure safeguards for the independence of the judiciary.
Ms Smuts said that in the previous year there had been under spending, but was very concerned about the budget for the SCA. She said it was imperative that the Appeal Court judges, in particular, should get the research facilities they needed. The SCA should be financially self-standing and it must get more than R20 million. Accidental under-spending should be stopped, and this should be properly compensated, so that the SCA budgets did not continue to be at such a low level.
Ms Pilane-Majake asked what the ideal budget should be.
Mr Johnson responded that facilities management, and the capacity of the facilities manager, investments in IT and library services had all been discussed in relation to the SCA. It would be assisted in getting what it needed. In relation to library services, there had already been R500 000 international publications procured, as a first tranche, and additional procurement would follow. The Secretary General of OCJ should take over the process and consider appropriate resource allocations, under the new vote.
Ms Smuts commented that the new wing of the Supreme Court of Appeal building was architecturally beautiful and thought it might have been achieved partially through virements from compensation of employees at Free State, and the Electoral Court.
Ms Ramanyimi noted that the building itself was paid for under Capital Works expenditure.
Ms Pilane-Majake was worried about the length of time taken to complete the court building projects.
Ms Ramanyimi agreed with her concerns and said that the problems were linked to contractor performance or less-than-ideal management of dates. Whilst the weather or employment conditions were not necessarily factored in, these should be managed through the project team. Professionals were placed on every project to oversee the contractors. Applications by contractors for extension of time were carefully scrutinised. It was often difficult to decide whether to cancel the contract or provide extra time to the contractor for completion.
Mr Jeffery asked what was meant by a report on the extension of services of Mangaung to the Regional Court Mobile Unit.
Mr Skosana said that the mobile units were part of the infrastructure arrangements. This did not establish a Regional Court as such, but ensured that additional accommodation space was available. The Magistrate’s Court Act did not prescribe that there should be different buildings for district and regional courts.
Ms Schäfer did not understand the comment that the alignment of municipal boundaries affected the courts’ functioning, saying that these boundaries were constantly changing and at some stage they had to be set.
Ms Pilane-Majake asked for a further explanation on why the Atteridgeville court and Diepsloot were delayed by demarcation issues.
Mr Skosana said that the demarcation related to the old courts that were dependent on “mother courts”, having no civil capacity of their own. A correct demarcation was intended to ensure that the courts could become fully fledged and have their own magistrates appointed, so that they would not be dependent on visiting magistrates. In the past, courts had been created and their jurisdictions arranged in a way that actually forced people to travel far. For instance, people staying on one side of the road might be bound to bring matters in the Diepskloof courts, with those living across the street being in the jurisdiction of Atteridgeville. Atteridgeville had now been made into a fully-fledged court, and it must be separately demarcated. The interim rationalisation legislation had dealt with some courts, and the Superior Courts Bill (once passed) would give power to the Minister to deal with demarcations to ensure that there was proper alignment. One particular anomaly was in relation to appeals and this disjoint had to be addressed.
The Chairperson informed the DOJ&CD of a complaint from another MP that Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court needed to have a reception desk. He asked how this might relate to a “blueprint” that had been suggested on the previous day.
Ms Schäfer said that whilst she did not agree with a reception desk, signage was needed.
Ms Ramanyimi said that the “blueprint” related to the new courts and there were limitations around the structure of the old courts. There were definitely no reception areas, but signage was in many of the courts.
Members noted that some courts were particularly well constructed and signed, and hoped that this could be maintained.
Ms Schäfer pointed out that the Special Sexual Offences Courts had run for some time, and she did not understand why the Ministerial Task Team was taking so long with its investigations. The NPA was desperate to have these courts reinstated, as the conviction rate for sexual offences had been proven to be substantially higher through a combination of the Thutuzela Centres and Special SO Courts. The conviction rate was shockingly low. The Sexual Offences Courts were never officially closed, but her question was directed to why the Task Team was taking so long.
The Chairperson pointed out that magistrates were on record as saying that they did not want to try sexual offences cases, and suggested that Ms Schäfer raise this issue at the Magistrate’s Commission.
Ms L Adams (COPE) raised the question of Labour Relations, saying that figures on pages 200 and 220 of the AR did not add up. In relation to page 215, she asked what an “abnormal appointment” was. She also referred to Table 13.3, which detailed the types of misconduct, and was concerned about the extent and variety of misconduct. She noted that 101 staff members were charged with fraud, and she wondered if any of those cases were reported to the SAPS. Similar questions related to corruption.
Ms Sindane said that the misconduct instances were a fair representation of what happened in the DOJ&CD, as well as other departments. Those who had transgressed were reported, and had been criminally charged. In some instances, recovery had been made, for instance where falsification of qualifications had led to higher salaries being fixed. The fraud and theft were in supply chain environment and this was brought to a halt in the Eastern Cape.
Community Rehabilitation proposals: Report by Chief Operations Officer
Dr de Wee noted that one of the key recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was that Community Rehabilitation should be done. There were challenges of limited resources and limited information, which could only be resolved after engaging with communities. Various opportunities were considered. One was to establish partnerships with relevant stakeholders where projects lacked funding, and nothing would stop the Department from doing this.
It was thought that most of the processes should be more biased to infrastructure, if communities agreed, and emphasis should be more on community mobilisation and engagement.
The TRC Report had made reference to 128 communities. However, given the limitations of resources, not all could be addressed, and six possible elements to be taken into consideration were selected (see attached presentation for full details), and three options then considered. Option 1 was to select two communities per province. Option 2 was to prioritise 27 out of the 128, and option 3 was to pilot in just one community. The first option was considered to be the best, as this would allow for engagement in all the provinces. It would minimize creation of expectations, took into account the limitations of the resources, and was an option that could allow for sourcing of information on the ground, which might then adjust the scope of the project.
Dr de Wee explained the criteria. The number, nature of atrocity and severity of atrocity were taken together and given a weighting of 70%, as these were very closely linked to the mandate of the TRC. The number of people living in poverty in that community, as well as the locality, and the strategic impact, were together weighted at 30%, and related to developmental issues.
Eighteen communities were then selected, as outlined in the presentation (see attached slides). An internal workshop was held with Independent Development Trust (IDT) to finalise the engagement. The DOJ&CD would speak to Premiers and municipalities and, if they agreed with the scope and principles, there would be engagement in communities. At the end of that process the outcome of the consultations would be given.
In terms of the budget, about R4 million was made available from the TRC resources, and the DOJ&CD Chief Financial Officer had indicated that a further R3 million might be made available from that budget.
It was intended to start with the project in the following week, although there were some concerns about the political situation at the moment in KwaZulu Natal.
The Chairperson said that a programme had recently been flighted by the National Broadcaster Opposition, who referred to the Bisho massacre, making reference to the fact that although there was a Reparations Fund, no reparations were given. Bisho was now listed one of the communities identified for rehabilitation.
Mr Jeffery thought the Bisho reparations would have been covered by Health and Education regulations. It would be difficult to make a decision on this point. It was interesting that the list covered very specific areas, except for Pietermaritzburg, which was vast. He was not sure that the best approach had been adopted, of an equal approach across the provinces, as the intention was that those communities suffering the worst impact of the incidents be rehabilitated. He urged further consultation and said that the public viewpoints must be taken into account.
Dr de Wee said that there were 49 people in the Western Cape who were being sought still by the TRC, and perhaps some might benefit from those reparations. However, he agreed that the DOJ&CD would be guided by the communities as to what was appropriate and relevant. In the last 18 years many communities had done many things, like erecting monuments, and it was necessary to find out what they felt might be needed.
Ms Smuts asked what incidents in Athlone were referred to, or if this was rather the incidents in Manenberg. She also wanted a report on the incidents in Crossroads.
Dr de Wee asked for permission to give a report in writing.
Ms Pilane-Majake also asked what criteria were used to select the communities, and thought it might have been better to ask provinces to identify the communities. More reparation might be needed in KwaZulu Natal, where a large number of communities were directly affected. She cautioned that damage could be done if some communities felt that they had not had their concerns addressed sufficiently.
Extension of Black Administration Act
The Chairperson noted that the Traditional Courts Bill would not be adopted before the end of the year and it was necessary, for the fifth time, to seek an extension of the Black Administration Act.
Mr Jeffery added that this would be done via a Committee Bill, but the Committee needed to seek the permission of the House to introduce a Committee Bill. In response to a question from Ms Christine Silkstone, Content Advisor, he thought that the period of extension should be three years. Should the Traditional Courts Bill be passed in that time, it would simply repeal the Black Administration Act (as extended).
Members agreed unanimously to approach the House for permission to introduce the Committee Bill.
The meeting was adjourned.
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