The Secretary General and Chief Financial Officer of the Office of the Chief Justice presented the Office's progress in establishing itself as a national department, in preparation for it being granted its own budget by National Treasury. The most pressing issue that came out of the presentation was the estimated R89 million budgetary shortfall facing the Office of the Chief Justice over the medium term expenditure framework; which consists of predicted expenses for its assumption of the administration of the judiciary from the Department of Justice and Correctional Development. Other topics included the progress on the attainment of its own budget vote and planned projects the Office has. Here Members enquired about the impact the shortfall would have on the operational capacity of the Office and they were concerned about the continued administration of the lower courts by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services.
Then the Director General of the Department of Justice and Correctional Services presented the Department's briefing to the Committee on its 2014/15 Annual Performance Plan. Highlights of the presentation included details of projects the Department plans for transformation of state legal services under the State Attorney's Act, the revamping of the insolvency industry and the planned review of the empowering legislation for magistrates courts. The presentation gave a breakdown of how the R17.9 billion 2014/15 allocation would be spent by the Department through its four sub-programmes. An underspend of approximately R450 million had been recorded, due to procurement problems in its capital works and ICTS infrastructure upgrades with the Department levelling blame at the Department of Public Works and SITA. The Member's discussion here focused on the manner in which the Committee could assist with the problems with the capital works projects and the progress with these projects. Members also wanted to be informed about the Department's plans to transform the legal system as a whole; which was answered by the planned systems upgrades within the Department such as the Integrated Justice System and plans to remedy the problems within the state legal services and rationalisation of municipal and judicial boundaries.
Briefing on Vote 24: by the Office of the Chief Justice
Ms Mmeme Sejosengwe, Secretary General of the Office of the Chief Justice, lead the presentation for the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ). She began by introducing the OCJ as a national department in terms of the Public Services Act 1994, which is tasked with providing institutional support to the Chief Justice regarding the administration of the judiciary. Their functions as determined by the Minister for Public Service and Administration include providing legal and administrative support to the Chief Justice; providing communication and relationship management; developing court administration policies, norms and standards; and supporting the Judicial Service Commission in the execution of its mandate. She also outlined the highlights on the road to the full establishment of the OCJ such as managerial appointments and its proclamation on 23 August 2010.
Ms Sejosengwe then turned to the achievements of the OCJ in the 2013/14 financial year. The OCJ has submitted the OCJ institutional models for the office aimed at safe guarding judicial independence which are the fruit of research by former Chief Justices Chaskalson and Langa. In preparation for the OCJ receiving a budget vote independent from the Department of Justice and Correctional Services (DoJ&CD) it has prepared a draft strategic plan for the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and annual performance plan for 2014/15 for submission to National Treasury. Internal controls and governance was established through the development of institutional policies, the appointment of an audit and risk committee and OCJ's bid adjudication committee. The Chief Justice established the national and provincial efficiency enhancement committees which aim to improve case flow management and court performance. Judicial norms and standard were gazetted in line with the Seventeenth Constitutional Amendment and the Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013. Lastly, the OCJ managed to spend 99.84% of its R123.9 million budget in 2013/14.
She then dealt with the activities the OCJ is engaged in preparation for the Office receiving its own budget vote. Here the OCJ had submitted its draft strategic plan and APP in August 2013 under the DoJ&CD and will submit its own strategic plan 2015-2020 and APP 2015/16 in August 2014. The OCJ has also opened all the accounts required for its operations and on 15 July 2014 the implementation of phase two, the configuration and migration of transversal systems from State Information Technology Agency (SIITA), of its IT infrastructure program will begin. The OCJ has also registered as an employer at all the institutions required such as SARS and the state Pension Fund. Finally, it has appointed a systems controller and audit and risk committee.
The OCJ's budget programme structure was proved by National Treasury on 12 April 2013 and includes three programmes: Administration, Judicial Support and Court Administration (for all superior courts) and Judicial Education and Research. The OCJ will also now manage the direct charge from the National Revenue Fund for judges salaries.
Mr Casper Coetzee, Chief Financial Officer of the Office of the Chief Justice, then detailed the OCJ's finances as a sub-programme of the DoJ&CD which does not manage the superior courts as yet and then the planned budget for the OCJ over the MTEF. The OCJ, through the Constitutional Court's allocation under the DoJ&CD, received a total of R123. 9 million in the 2013/14 financial year; while the Supreme Court of Appeal, High Courts and Specialised Courts received R29.9, R451.3 and R67.5 million respectively under the DoJ&CD budget vote. The OCJ was able to spend 99.84% of its allocation in 2013/14. Turning to the 2014/15 budget the breakdown for the three programmes is as follows: Administration is allocated R24.4 million; Judicial Support and Court Administration, as the core functional area, received R507.7 million; and Judicial Education and Research was allocated R26.9 million.
Ms Sejosengwe said that the OCJ is going to experience an estimated shortfall of R89.5 million for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years. An additional R6.5 million is required for capacitation of the OCJ, office accommodation for the Office will require R15 million annually, R1.5 million is required to furnish the Office and the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI) requires an additional R15 million to function effectively. The implementation of Supreme Court of Appeal (SUCA) requires an additional R10 million to capacitate judge presidents offices and R15 million will be required for the development of a judicial monitoring system to gauge court performance. The OCJ also envisages additional operational and remunerative costs of R15 million and R20 million per annum, as a result of the planned phased-in approach to the transfer and delegation of functions from the DoJ&CD. The shortfall was a result of the budget being adjusted for inflation only, not accounting for the increasing mandate of the OCJ. Its engagement with National Treasury resulted in the OCJ being told that due to the current economic climate the best route would be to re-prioritise the DoJ&CD funds. National Treasury also indicated that the OCJ and DoJ&CD should complete the transfer and delegation of functions to the OCJ before it can consider additional funding.
Ms Sejosengwe then highlighted the staffing related concerns of the OCJ. The most pressing concern is the 45% vacancy rate within the Office, leaving the OCJ with only 146 staff for the 266 posts in the organisational structure. More specifically there are nine unfunded vacancies at the SMS level where there is a total of 31 posts and 111 unfunded vacancies at levels 1 to 12 where there are a total of 235 posts. The demographic breakdown of OCJ's senior management is 73% male and 86% black; while at levels 1 to 12 it is 60% female and 87% black.
The most important priorities for the OCJ are securing its own budget vote; securing a Judicial Headquarters as its lease has been terminated by the owner; the transfer and delegation of functions to the OCJ with concomitant capacitation; judicial case flow management through a review of the Case Management Court Rules; court modernisation through e-filing and e-record management; and the implementation of the Seventeenth Constitutional Amendment and SuCA through the capacitation of the Judge Presidents' offices, the judicial court performance monitoring system and monitoring the implementation of the judicial norms and standards.
The important operational plans for 2014/15 are the development of the OCJ's 2015-2020 Strategic Plan and 2015/16 APP; the securing of the OCJ's budget vote; the deployment of Judicial ICT infrastructure to enhance institutional independence; the filling of 90% of approved funded posts; the implementation of the Judicial Case Flow Management System at all High Courts; the implementation of systems to monitor court performance and adherence to judicial norms and standards; the conclusion of 63 judicial education sessions and workshops; and the provision of support to the Chief Justice in his international and regional engagements.
Ms Sejosengwe concluded by highlighting the institutional challenges: inadequate office space with a deficit of 1400m2 with its current staff complement, the dependence on the DoJ&CD for institutional support systems, insufficiencies in the budget for resourcing, human resources, IT government infrastructure and the OCJ's lack of a provincial footprint leading to ineffectiveness in its support to the superior courts.
Chairperson thanked Ms Sejosengwe for her presentation and opened the floor for Member's questions.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) commended the OCJ for the progress it has made since it briefed the previous Committee and said that the OCJ pointed out that it plans to adopt its legislative and constitutional mandates designed to enhance judicial independence in phases, with phase one seeing the OCJ becoming a government department which is not ideal. He therefore asked what legislation has been prepared to make the OCJ an independent entity like the Auditor General. Secondly, he asked about the courtesy visit with which the Portfolio Committee usually has with the Chief Justice and members of the judiciary.
Ms M Sejosengwe replied that the OCJ institutional model submissions to DoJ&CD have informed it that the OCJ's policy stance regarding a bill to initiate phase two, which will be resubmitted to the new Minister, seeing as the initiation of legislation is its functional terrain. The proposal to meet with the judiciary was welcomed and she added that it would be appreciated if the Committee would come see the conditions of the OCJ's office accommodation.
Mr J Self (DA) asked Mr Coetzee whether he had understood him correctly in that the budgets for the Supreme Court of Appeal are not yet within the OCJ's budget. Regardless, he was concerned that comparing the appropriations to the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal considering the number of justices in each court; approximately R12 million a year is spent on a Constitutional Court Justice versus R1.3 per Supreme Court of Appeal Judge leading him to wonder if the SCA properly resourced. Secondly, he wanted to know about what plans the OCJ has to capacitate current courts and the ones to be built within the MTEF period, such as the ones in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, especially considering that the OCJ has described itself as having a insufficient provincial footprint.
Mr Coetzee addressed the question around the Supreme Court of Appeal's budget versus the Constitutional Court's budget by saying that the Constitutional Court and the OCJ are lumped together under the Constitutional Court sub-programme of the DoJ&CD. The actual budget of the Constitutional Court is R57 million of the R123 million total, however this still incorporates the total administrative salary bill of the OCJ.
Ms Sejosengwe then dealt with the amount per judge for the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal. First she said that the Constitutional Court has been differently funded historically, because it is the apex court. However, the OCJ plans to have a balanced approach when it takes over the administration of the judiciary. The challenges over the MTEF and capacitation of the various courts will be done through negotiations with the DoJ&CD in order to ensure that the resources which are currently being used for judicial administration are transferred to the OCJ. She also reiterated that until the transfer and delegation of functions has been completed, National Treasury will not be willing to consider additional funding.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) was concerned to know why the judicial education and research budget allocation is so small. Also, whether the South African Judicial Education Institute is fully set up and running; if so how many judges have been trained and does it also train magistrates.
Ms G Moshewu, CEO of SAJEI, replied that it is operational and the council is in place and is meeting. Currently SAJEI is operating under the approved budget. In terms of the training a detailed report can be provided, but in short the training is done by experienced judges and magistrates, however SAJEI is working with the DoJ&CD to try and get in house educators to complement the 10 permanent staff members.
Mr Coetzee commented on SAJEI saying that it is one of the unfunded priorities and mandates the OCJ has indicated that it requires an additional R15m for full capacity, because the DoJ&CD transferred a baseline figure without making provision for exact needs.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) wanted to know whether the magistrates are going to form part of the OCJ's administrative mandate and if not, why; will they remain under the auspices of the DoJ&CD.
Ms Sejosengwe replied that unfortunately administration of the lower courts is currently outside the mandate of the OCJ, however there are peripheral involvements such as SAJEI training magistrates. The DoJ&CD does currently administer these courts and there are plans to transfer this function, but she could not say when.
Mr Redelinghuys (DA) thanked the OCJ and Secretary General for the clear presentation and the steps it was taking towards ensuring a more independent judiciary. He referred to section 11 of SuCA which states that the Minister appoints court managers, registrars and their assistants, but also that he can delegate this function; and would like to know if this has been delegated to the OCJ and Secretary General. Secondly, whether the OCJ has made any representations concerning the purchasing or procurement of office accommodation or if rental continues to be the most cost effective option.
Ms Sejosengwe replied that the Minister has delegated this in terms of section 11 of SuCA on 11 April 2014 and OCJ is now working together with the DoJ&CS on further downward delegations.
Mr Coetzee responded to the concerns with office accommodation saying that the long term goal is to build a home for the judiciary on or close to Constitutional Hill. In terms of rental, the procurement process, with the Department of Public Works and DoJ&CD, has begun to rent a b+ or b grade building because currently in -c grade building according to the Department of Public Works grading system.
Ms Pilane-Majake (ANC) was concerned about the vacancy rate, in light of the persistent problem of unemployment in South Africa and hoped to see an increase in the SMS level figures for women. She then asked of the 19 judges appointed by the Judicial Services Commission, how many are women. She said that in her eyes the Secretary General is the accounting officer for Public Finance and Management Act, despite the lack of the OCJ's own budget vote and it being a DoJ&CD sub-programme. She was also concerned that nothing was said about the administration of magistrates courts and would like to know about plans to incorporate the lower courts under the mandate of the Office. Regarding IT systems, she asked whether the OCJ was experiencing problems with off site storage.
Ms Sejosengwe noted Ms Pilane-Majake's comments on the gender profile and committed herself to working on this aspect. She also welcomed her comment on the Secretary General being the accounting officer of the OCJ. She had already replied to the question on magistrates. Regarding the issues with offsite storage she said that this was still within the purview of the DoJ&CD and how this affect the High Courts will be managed during the transfer and delegation; further than this she was not in a position to comment in detail, but aware that there are certain projects surrounding this area.
Mr W Horn's (DA) question related to staffing and he said that given the fact that the courts are currently being managed using DoJ&CD staff, will these staff members be seconded to the OCJ or is it intent on the hiring of new people. He also wanted to know about the monetary impact on the taxpayer once all the unfunded posts are filled, because it is not clear that the DoJ&CD budget will decrease by the same amount the OCJ's increases and would like comment in this regard.
Ms Sejosengwe said that she has been informed that 1400 staff members of the High Courts will be seconded to the OCJ, further secondments will be subject to interactions between the DoJ&CD and OCJ. During the OCJ's briefing of the Minister, he has indicated that the OCJ needs to move with sped. Turning to the monetary impact on the taxpayer through the filling of vacancies, it would be natural that there will be a decrease in the DOJ's budget, because resources follow function. The full impact will be felt when the staff which are not currently in the courts, such as regional and national support staff, are hired and the DoJ&CD has pledged its support in this regard.
Ms K Litchfield-Tshabalala (EFF) asked how the R89 million shortfall will affect the OCJ's operational capacity regarding important projects such as the implementation of the Judicial Case Flow Management System at all High Courts and systems to monitor court performance. She also wanted to caution the OCJ that as a new organisation it has the opportunity to correct gender representative at the SMS level.
Mr Coetzee said that in terms of the R89 million shortfall, the OCJ will be engaging into a phased takeover of the functions of the DoJ&CD. The support structures at the national and regional level may pose problems and here service level agreements and memoranda of agreement will have to be signed entailing the DoJ&CD continuing to perform these functions in the interim or transfer human and other resources to maintain service delivery. National Treasury will also have to be advised that the OCJ's baseline budget will have to be increased in some areas, because these functions have been adopted by the OCJ with more to follow.
Mr B Bongo (ANC) wanted to ask about the OCJ's role regarding the transformative imperatives according to section 174 of the Constitution, specifically he would like to know how many of the19 new judges are black. He also wanted to raise the view of the Committee concerning the transformation of the whole legal system and wanted to know how the OCJ plans to deal with this critical area.
Ms Sejosengwe replied to transformative imperatives regarding the 19 newly appointed judges saying that she does not have the figures and will provide written responses. However, the Minister in his speech the previous week said that of 243 judges,155 were black and 79 female. As for plans relating to the transformation of the entire justice system, the judiciary does make input on issues of transforming the entire system, an example of which is the case flow management system, however judicial policy is generally the terrain of the judicial executive, such as Judge Presidents.
Mr Swart commented on the parity in the resourcing of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal saying that while he appreciated that as the apex court the Constitutional Court had functional requirements. Despite this he said that even the previous Committee had raised concerns about legitimacy of the difference in the research and secretarial budgets per judge in the two courts and would like to take this up in the future.
Ms Pilane-Majake, seeing that a SAJEI representative was present, asked for clarity on how the OCJ stays in contact with other entities related to its mandate such as the Judicial Service Commission.
Ms Sejosengwe replied that the various bodies are administered through the programme structure of the OCJ , particularly programme 3: Judicial Education and Research. For example the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission is part of the OCJ, the same for SAJEI, however this is limited to the administrative components of the bodies and their constitutionally entrenched independence is still protected.
The Chairperson said that it was clear that the Members were satisfied with the good work which the OCJ was doing and that they would welcome the invitation to visit the offices of the OCJ. He then echoed Mr Bongo, saying that the OCJ could play a major role in transformation, especially through SAJEI. He also commended the OCJ on a good presentation and the work which it was engaged in.
Briefing by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services
Ms, Nonkululeko Sindane, Director General Department of Justice and Correctional Services, lead the presentation for the Department. The topics she covered were: the Department's constitutional and legislative mandate, its strategic relation to national policy, the risks and challenges faced, areas with funding constraints and its strategic objectives and targets for each programme.
Ms Sindane said that the mandate of the DoJ&CD had been reduced by the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act 2012 and the Superior Courts Act of 2013 which established the Office of the Chief Justice as a separate entity responsible for the administration and monitoring of all superior courts; which means that the Office of the Chief Justice will be the body responsible for court administrative staff such as registrars. Turning to the legislation which affects the DoJ&CD mandate she noted that SuCA also places the Judicial Service Commission and South African Judicial Education Institute under the administration of the Office of the Chief Justice. The legislation regulating the lower courts, special courts and legislative entities, including certain Chapter Nine Institutions, the South African Law Reform Commission and masters of the High Courts, place varying responsibilities on the Department. Ms Sindane made special mention of how outdated the Magistrates Court Act (No 32 of 1944) is and the Department plans to replace it. She also said that the DoJ&CD is also responsible for administering legislation regarding certain constitutional rights, e.g. the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2000 (PAIA), and the protection of vulnerable groups, such as the Child Justice Act of 2008.
Next she dealt with the manner in which the DoJ&CD has linked its plans in its Strategic Plan and APP with the prioritised outcomes of the National Development Plan (NDP). Regarding Chapter 11: Social Protection, she said that the Department plans to focus on service turnarounds in the maintenance services and masters branches through efforts including the implementation of ICT systems. Further efforts under Chapter 11 focus on the Office of the Chief Family Advocate where mediation will be improved in line with legislation, as will turnaround times for the lodging of children's reports with the courts. Next she dealt with Chapter 12: Building Safer Communities, here the focus will be on the implementation of the Seven Point Plan of Criminal Justice Review centring around the improvement of court processes, e.g. the implementation of digital records; improving access to justice is also crucial, here through projects such as the building of new courts in Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The last focus under Chapter 12 is the prioritisation of vulnerable groups be establishing dedicated sexual offences courts and the implementation of the National Action Plan regarding the management of crimes against the LGBTI community. Third, she went through the relation to Chapter 13: Building a Capable State where the development of women and staff have been identified as crucial, the Doj&CD plans to focus on training by conducting advanced legal training for women through the South African Women Lawyers Association, staff training through the DoJ&CD Justice College and the running of bursary and internship programmes for the youth. Under this chapter the DoJ&CD also plans to introduce management systems to improve efficiency, e.g. the Integrated Case Management System. Chapter 14: Promoting Accountability and Fighting Corruption, here Ms Sindane listed five NDP identified proposals, with corresponding DoJ&CD interventions, these include dramatic up-scaling of judicial training where the Department plans to finalise the governance structures of SAJEI and the extension of community service for legal graduates, where the Departments answer is the Legal Practice Bill which includes mandatory pro bono work for legal professionals. The Activities of the JCPS cluster's anti-corruption Task team are also important, because it has conducted 800 investigations, of which 298 are at the pre-trial stage and 74 are in court, it also has a list of 42 people who have been convicted of fraud. Lastly, Chapter 15: Transforming Society and Uniting the Country where the focus in the APP is on the implementation of and compliance with human rights legislation, particularly PAIA and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000 (PEPUDA). The DoJ&CD also plans to implement the regulations produced as a result of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to promote official languages and Braille.
Ms Sindane then gave an update on existing policies and projects with which the DoJ&CD was involved. The first was the transformation of State Legal Services where problems included the low success rate of cases involving government and the prescription or lapsing of claims by government; to address this a policy framework was approved by Cabinet which resulted in the amendment of the State Attorney's Act which aims to create a central head office for State Legal Services, under the Solicitor General. Secondly, the Department has been monitoring the role of the Judiciary in the development of South Africa and to this end the DoJ&CD has engaged the Human Sciences Research Council and University of Fort Hare to study the impact of the decisions of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal which has produced an interim report. Thirdly, the DoJ&CD has also created a blueprint for the overhaul of the lower courts in light of the ageing Magistrates Court Act which includes a framework for the rationalisation of magisterial and municipal boundaries and all that remains is to develop principles to guide the drafting of a new bill. Next she discussed the Department's efforts to transform the insolvency industry which is regulated by the Insolvency Act of 1936, here the DoJ&CD plans to put together a policy as required by the SuCA; however the insolvency industry has won an interdict against the implementation of the policy which ends on 23 October 2014 and the Department has affected amendments and is awaiting cabinet approval. The Legal Practice Bill has been passed by Parliament in 2014 and awaits assent by the President, so that the work in overhauling the institutional structure of the legal profession.
Ms Sindane then dealt with the key changes to the Departments planning documents, which arise from consideration of the NDP, medium terms strategic framework (MTSF), the centrality of the public as consumers of its services and guidance from various stakeholders such as the Ministry, Auditor-General, the Committee and National Treasury. These changes generally took the form of the inclusion of indicators to monitor key areas of performance including Integrated Justice System indicators under programme 4, indicators based on the NDP and MTSF, four indicators based on the objective of promoting constitutional development and participatory democracy and an indicator under the objective of improved human resource service focusing on policies and legislation being assessed for gender main-streaming.
Ms Sindane then outlined the key risks identified. First, the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) has created staffing problems, for example the Chief State Law Advisor cannot fill certain posts as a result of disparities in remuneration which have arisen because of the Department's misapplication of the OSD. She also spoke to uncertainty regarding the migration of functions to the Office of the Chief Justice, because this may impact on the operations of the Department as a whole. The Department of Public Works (DPW) also poses a risk to the Department, because of problems in its with the finalisation of planned projects, such as the South Gauteng High Court, and complications which give rise to increased construction and materials costs. SITA posses a similar risk to the DPW, but relating to the implementation of key ICT infrastructure projects. The prevalence of service delivery protests also poses a risk because this has seen damage to service points such as courts.
Next she detailed the potential effect of funding constraints on the pursuit of the DoJ&CD mandate. While the Department has allocated funds to the implementation of the labour intensive Child Justice Act of 2008 (R5.2 million), Children's Act (R3.3 million) and the transformation of State Legal Services through the Solicitor General's Office (R14 million), she noted that these funds may not be sufficient but the work will continue. There are further pieces of legislation where funding is even more critical, including Protection of Personal Information Act and Legal Practice Bill. Other areas where funding constraints exist are the planned increase in the number of facilities to improve access to justice, security at service points and the enhancement of capacity in State Legal Services, masters offices and other institutional areas. Despite the funding constraints the DoJ&CD has underspent of R475 million in the 2013/14 financial year. The two main areas of underspending were the Integrated Justice System (R120 million) and Building and Other Fixtures (R347.6 million). The underspend on the IJS was due to delays in the procurement process. In terms of Building and Other Fixtures it was due to non-performance by contractors and the late hand over of sites to contractors and delays in the tender process. The budget for these two areas was ring-fenced and could therefore not be transferred to other pressing concerns.
Ms Sejosengwe then dealt with the specifics of each programme under the DoJ&CD:
Programme 1: Administration
a) Increase Compliance with Prescripts for Good Governance
A key priority here is to improve accountability with the aim of achieving an unqualified audit concerning the funds under the DoJ&CD budget vote and other funds controlled by the Department, such as the Presidents funds. The only area where the Department has not received an unqualified audit is Third Party Funds and here the Department plans to review its system for Third Party Funds and is finalising legislation in this regard. Accountability efforts for the National Prosecuting Authority and SAJEI have also been stepped up.
b) Fighting Fraud and Corruption
Here the Department has produced a three pronged strategy consisting of the training and awareness building of staff; the vetting of staff, especially supply chain staff and SMS level employees, and the conducting of a study on the effects of vetting; and a focus on the finalisation of forensic investigations with a target of 70%. This has lead to a significant increase in the identified cases of fraud and corruption within the Department.
c) Information and Communications Technology
Here the most important effort is the implementation of the integrated case management system with the aim of improving service delivery in the lower courts, masters offices and for third party funds. The efforts regarding the Integrated Justice System which has seen a number of South African Police Service stations connected to courts allowing for the digital production of dockets. Ms Sindane also noted that the Department of Public Service and Administration considers the DoJ&CD ICT Governance Policy Framework as best practice and has distributed it throughout the public service.
d) Human Resource Services
Here the Department has focused on the filling of vacancies achieving its target of an average vacancy rate of 10% in the 2013/14 financial year and this is planned to be maintained over the MTEF period. However, she reiterated that this is where the OSD issues come into play especially regarding OSD level nine and ten staff. Ms Sindane also noted that three senior management positions, Deputy-Director General Corporate Services, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy-Director General: Legislative Development, have been filled and two of these appointees are women.
The Department has also achieved its targets for the resolution of misconduct cases by finalising 65% of the misconduct cases. Regarding grievances she said that 85% of these cases have been finalised and noted that of the 502 grievances recorded 427 involved problems relating to performance assessment, salaries and unfair labour practices, with the OSD often being implicated.
The Department has also trained 5385 people in the 2013/14 financial year, against its target of 5000. The Justice College is planned to be repositioned as the key provider of training in the Department and the 2014/15 target has been increased to 6000.
e) The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The individual reparations are basically completed and the outstanding payments will not be made, because the beneficiaries cannot be located. Regarding the assistance of identified victims, the DoJ&CD has began helping these people through institutions such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and the Department of Health, despite the absence of Regulations which are in the process of promulgation.
f) Service Charter and Customer Service
The Department has finalised Service Delivery Improvement Plans in the Masters Office and Maintenance Office in 2013/14. Other initiates included the development of learning materials to implement service standards, the distribution of Service Charter Posters to all courts and the translation of service charter booklets into all 11 official languages. The DoJ&CD received 1147 Presidential Hotline cases in 2013/14 and completed 85% and the Department plans to complete 87% of all Presidential Hotline calls. The Department also plans to conduct a survey detailing the levels of customer satisfaction in 2014/15.
g) Implementation of PAIA and the Promotion of Access to Justice Act
Ms Sindane noted that the Department has been training magistrates on PAIA through SAJEI. It also plans to monitor compliance and has introduced an indicator in this regard. In 2013/14 a total of 253 requests were finalised within 60 days which equates to 55% and the target has been pushed to 75% for 2014/15
Programme 2: Court Services
Due to time constraints Ms Sindane summarised this section by saying that all the activities listed under this programme are being engaged in and the Department is monitoring this on a quarterly basis, especially regarding the finalisation of backlog criminal cases and family law cases; aided by the reintroduction of specialised sexual offences courts. She emphasised that the DoJ&CD was on track with establishing small claims courts which had a target of establishing ten small claims courts within the first 100 days. She also wanted to speak to the project on participatory democracy, which aims to educate the public about the Constitution and their rights, in coordination with the South African Human Rights Commission.
Programme 3: State Legal Services
This includes the Masters Offices, the State Attorney's Office and the Chief State Law Advisor. Here she wanted to speak to a system called 'Move-It', which is an identity information system linked to the Department of Home Affairs which works through fingerprint scanning and this will help improve service delivery by reducing liaise times between the Masters Office and other stakeholders. She also noted that the Masters office is in the process of complete digitisation, since September last year, and the only paper work done now are the files lodged before September 2013. She also focused on State Legal Services, saying that the DoJ&CD believes it has been able to allocate 75% of briefs to previously disadvantaged individuals and now what is left is to have quality assurance for the work carried out both in house and through briefs. She also said that the Maintenance Amendment Bill and other bills would be submitted to Parliament. Regarding Rules produced she highlighted the Rules relating to Court Annexed Mediation, to be implemented later in the year.
Programme 4: Auxiliary and Associated Services
Here is where the IJS and Criminal Justice System Review, along with the allocations to institutions such as Legal Aid South Africa and the Office of the Public Protector. Ms Sindane wanted to highlight that the IJS is in the process of implementation and the key projects over the next five years relating to the Criminal Justice System Review will be the establishment of a single person identifier across the criminal justice system, establishment of an integrated criminal justice system performance information dashboard and the setting of nine key performance indicators in this regard growing to 28 over the next five years and the establishment of a single data store to share statistics with other departments. She also wanted to say that the reason she is emphasising the projects surrounding the criminal justice system is because the DoJ&CD has over the years invested approximately R2 billion into this area and wished to explain this to the Committee.
She concluded by saying that the Department has aligned its strategy to the NDP and that if the roadmap to 2030 is broken up into bite size annual plans and five year strategic plans it is more achievable. She also said that the Department plans to continue to deliver on its legislative mandates. The key projects the DoJ&CD will be engage in are the finalisation of the transformation of state legal services through the State Attorney’s Act and the building of capacity and systems to ensure service delivery.
Ms Lourine Rossouw, Chief Financial Officer of the DoJ&CD, began by stating the Department's economic mission statement saying that in light of the economic climate and the goal of reducing the budget deficit the Department aims at cost containment measures, reviewing the compensation spend and the re-prioritisation of spending on goods and services. This has seen between 2009/10 and 2013/14 an average saving of 10% on travel and subsistence; as well as a 40% on consultant costs. Operation Excellence???
She then spoke to a slide which showed the allocation of money to NDP priorities. She said that the Department has spent R8 million on the improvement of judicial governance and the rule of law through the IJS project. On improving access to justice for vulnerable groups the Department spent R11 million on sexual offences, R2.9 million on the Child Justice Act and R3.3 million on the Children’s Act. 80% of the value of DoJ&CD procurement of goods and services is from level one to four rated entities to encourage Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment. In terms of building a corruption free society the DoJ&CD has spent R63 million on management of the risk and auditing. To help build a capable state the Department has improved its people and performance measurement process and it plans to implement more efficient systems, an example of its improvement is the clean audit in the Eastern Cape, where there had been 59 negative findings five years ago.
She then dealt with the underspend by the Department, saying that it was due to procurement issues relating to the IJS and capital works projects. The problem related to the implementation agencies involved, i.e. DPW and SITA, where there were issues relating to the tender specifications and adjudication. She said that the Department was engaged in communications at the CFO, accounting officer and ministerial levels in order to remedy the situation. Turning to DoJ&CD achievements, she said that the debtors paid within 30 days had increased from 492 to 8.8 million, of which approximately 3 million were related to the Office of the Chief Justice. She then outlined the cost drivers for the 2014/15 which centred around increases in the price of security services, inflationary increases in water and electricity costs and finally the Department's lease portfolio, which grew by 93% due to delays in capital works projects forcing the Department to rent. Also, the spend on legal services increased, particularly relating to psychological evaluations which is set to grow by 20% annually during the MTEF period and transcription fees which grew by 14%.
Next she gave on overview of the DoJ&CD 2014/15 budget. The total budget was R17.9 billion, of which 11% to administration, 31% to court services, 3% to the Office of the Chief Budget, 5% to state legal services,18% to the NPA, 17% to auxiliary services and 15% is the direct charge for judges and magistrates salaries. The economic classifications of the budget is 57% to compensation of employees (when the judges and magistrates salaries are included), goods and services at18%, property management 2%, transfers to agencies 12%, IJS, CJS and software at 3% , buildings 5% and machinery and equipment at 3%. Under Administration 53% of the allocation is spent on leasing. Under court services 62.8% on lower courts, with an average R8.8 million being spent per lower court and R28.8 million on a high court. Under state legal services 44% goes to the Master's Office, 7% to the State Law Advisors, 6% to constitutional development, 36% on litigation and 7% on law reform. Under auxiliary services 48% goes to Legal Aid South Africa. Regarding facilities management 41% is transferred to capital works and 41% to DPW; the challenge here is that only 5% of the budget has been spent. The Department has also transferred R500 million to the Office of the Chief Justice in order for it to be able to take over the functions of administering the superior courts. She emphasised that the DoJ&CD faces spending challenges regarding the cost of renting office accommodation due to the problems with its capital works projects; the person ell establishment expansion is hampered by the issues relating to the OSD; the implementation and roll out of the cost of legislation project is also facing funding problems; and finally there are problems with funding for commissions of enquiries which are usually funded through the budget adjustment process although this is not optimal.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) began by congratulating the Department on its previous unqualified audit and hoped this would continue. His first issue was the third party funds and wanted to know where on the financial statements for 2012/13 these would be reflected, seeing as this had been an issue raised by the previous committee in light of the disclaimer the Department received in the audit of the 2010/11 financial year and there need for progress in this regard. Next he said that although the DoJ&CD had explained the reasons for its underspend on infrastructure, that the Committee raised this with the Minister hoping to help the Department and this has created problems in terms of requesting more money from National Treasury; finally suggesting that the Committee raise it in the budget debate and with the Portfolio Committee on Public Works. Secondly he spoke about funding for commissions of enquiry, which are unfunded mandates, suggesting that if the adjustment appropriation is insufficient perhaps the President's Fund could be of assistance and asked if there was a plan in this regard. Lastly he was concerned about the systemic problems with the State Attorney's Office, especially considering that only 29% of the enrolled cases were successfully concluded resulting in 71% of cases resulting in the state covering the costs of both parties and this needs to be addressed. He also asked what the situation is regarding the recovery of advocates fees when the Department acts on behalf of other departments, especially considering that this is funded through an overdraft facility, and also where it fitted on the financial statements.
Ms Sindane replied that the financial statements for third party funds are completed and the audit outcomes for 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 have been received and were tabled on 13 March 2014. She noted that the outcomes were not good, but asked for lenience seeing that these were drawn within 18 months and the Department was working on improving. Regarding the commissions of enquiry she said that the Department did not receive sufficient funding and the money was found through re-prioritisation of funds. The initial funding was insufficient because some commissions began with clear mandates and these have been extended. Regarding the capital works budget, she said that inter-departmental communications were on going and the Minister has requested correspondence on the issue. Replying generally to the Member's concerns about the State Attorney’s Office she said that indeed the problem was systemic and the increases in the budget of the State Attorney has only received inflationary increases and this explains the performance; however hopefully with the increase in funding the results will improve over the Strategic Plan period. An example of the investment in this area is the R1.2 billion invested in Legal Aid South Africa, which has produced a turnaround in this entity. With the recovery of fees she assured the Committee that fees were being recovered from other departments and most pay regularly; the ones that do not are under administration under sections 100 (a) and (b). The funds recovered are used to pay off the revolving credit used to fund the litigation.
Mr T Malema, Acting Deputy Director-General, DoJ&CD, added that the funding for commissions of enquiry could not be taken out of the President's Fund because the purposes of that fund are delineated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act.
Mr Swart clarified that he had meant the Presidency's budget vote and not the president's fund.
Mr Malema replied that this was the case, however it was not sufficient.
Mr W Horn (DA) spoke to page 20 of the presentation regarding the establishment of criteria for selection of judges focusing on the candidate's progressive credentials and transformative judicial philosophy and said that the Constitution already provides the criteria for judges such as the founding values; therefore would this not infringe on judicial independence and the principle of separation of powers. He then turned to page 32 and spoke about the transformation of the insolvency practice, where the Department seems to be focused on racial transformation and he said that this was an opportunity to transform the insolvency industry in its totality. For example the absence of an ombudsman of an ombudsman for liquidators and curators and high volumes of complaints have been coming to the Committee concerning curators and liquidators.
Mr Skosana replied that regarding the appointment of judges that this is an executive function of the President, assisted by the Judicial Service Commission and the criteria currently in use are dated and therefore the impetus for new criteria from the NDP.
Ms Sindane replied that the point regarding the dangers to judicial independence; however the proposal did not come from the Department itself but from the NDP. This implies that there is some work which needs to be done by the Department, to show compliance with the NDP. Turning to the issues around the insolvency sector, she said that the DoJ&CD fully agrees and in the totality of the documents other interventions aside from race based ones are mentioned. She also added that the viability of an ombudsman has also been considered and this will be decided upon when the legislation is produced.
Mr B Bongo (ANC) wanted to know whether the Department could not investigate the amendment of the State Attorney's Act, because this Act centralises all this work to the state which does not necessarily have the capacity leading to delays in the State Attorney's Office and possibly this could be solved by briefing private lawyers especially considering the potential for economic transformation. He then spoke to the issues surrounding the small claims courts saying that in light of the cost of living and inflation the upper limit for claims in these courts has become trivial and perhaps a drastic increase is required, in order to keep this convenient institution useful. Regarding the transfers to entities under the Department's budget vote , he said that these institutions have been saying that they are heavily underfunded, to the extent that they are seeking donor funding and the DoJ&CD needs to ensure these institutions are properly funded to avoid the situation where these entities become agents of funders. He also wanted to emphasise the issue of briefs being given to previously disadvantaged individuals and would like to know the statistics on the people being briefed, because of subdivisions within previously disadvantage people, such as rural versus urban. He then spoke to the issues surrounding the OSD, saying that there is a missing link in terms of its application because the arbitrary disparities in classifications created are problematic. He also commended the Department on the rationalisation of court and municipal boundaries, because jurisdictional issues affect access to justice.
Ms Sindane replied that a combination of in-house and private legal services are made use of depending on the types of cases and the capacity of the branch involved. Turning to the monetary jurisdiction of the small claims court she said that it was currently at R12 000 and the possibility of increasing it is being considered, however an overly drastic increase will lead to conflict with the magistrate's court jurisdiction.; however the parties can still consent to reduce their claim to fall within the jurisdiction of the small claims court Regarding the donor funding she said that this is a sore point, however the funding is negotiated centrally by National Treasury and once granted the Departments then engage with the funders on the particular projects which will be funded. She also said that she will provide a statistical breakdown of the briefs being given to private lawyers. Regarding the problems with the OSD's application, she said that she can provide statistics on the number of posts which cannot be filled because of embargoes and the salary disparities which are a result of defects at the design level and the implementation level. On the issue of rationalisation of municipal and judicial boundaries she appreciated the concerns about the delay of the process, however the main reason for the delay was the time it took to have the Superior Courts Act of 2013 passed. Now the Department is moving with speed to handle this issue.
Mr Malema regarding the OSD issues said that the DoJ&CD has approached DPW and the Department of Public Services and engaged at a bargaining council level in order to make progress.
Ms M Mathapo (ANC) started by commending the Department on the work it was doing. She asked the Director General to unpack the effect on access to justice which the building of 45 courts in townships and rural areas, particularly regarding which provinces were the focus of this project. Then she asked if the Department's Service Charter was in marginalised languages and distributed according the prevalent languages in a given area. Referring to page 45 of the presentation she wanted clarity on the reasons for the underspend and measures taken to address the problems. She then asked whether it would be possible to know how many of the 3000 maintenance recipients located, how many of them were in rural areas where locating people through traditional councils is fairly easy. Lastly, she wanted to know the Department's progress with the Traditional Courts Bill.
Ms Sindane replied to the question on the underspend, by saying that areas were infrastructure and ICTS where procurement agencies played a major role in the underspend.
Mr department official? replied to the maintenance question saying that tenders have been put out for tracers to find both defaulters and beneficiaries. He added that where claims are not collected the money is given to the state until such a time as the beneficiary come to collect it. Lastly, he said that maintenance has been considered important by the DoJ&CD resulting in instruction posters being put up in court buildings.
Mr Skosana dealt with the query about the Traditional Courts Bill. He began by saying that the 2012 bill lapsed, because it was not approved of by the National Council of Provinces and now a new draft is being prepared along a new conceptual line. Important changes may include: the name of the bill, strengthening the role of women in these courts, the possibility of legal representation, the ability to opt out of traditional courts or if their use will be compulsory, the potential for an appeal mechanism to the normal high courts and there will also be a renewed focus on restorative justice which is built on African jurisprudence.
At this point the Chairperson said that the Department need not reply exhaustively and that written responses could be provided by Friday.
Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC) applauded the Department on the clean audit received in 2012/13 and the savings it made on consultation fees. She also promised to assist the Department with its capital works problems, to help reduce the cost of leasing. She then reiterated Mr Swart's comments regarding the third party funds and asked for a full report regarding the issue. She then asked if there was not an overlap between the Justice College and SAJEI and if the DoJ&CD has a plan in this regard. Next she asked if the Department was aware of the numbers of retired judges and the cost of their remuneration. She also wanted to emphasise the need for IT systems for the management of Maintenance claims and other third party funds. She also asked how the quantum of a claim is determined, whether the attachment of assets is done for maintenance claims and what is done with unclaimed funds. She then asked about the Department's progress with the Sexual Offenders Register and noted that the Department of Social Development had a similar register. She expressed her concern with the high number of cases lost by the government and asked for clarity on the reasons behind this. She then commented on the criteria for the selection of judges, because transformation was key and looking at the history of the country is what the Department currently using as criteria, constitutional imperatives, really helping South Africa transform. She then spoke to the access to justice programmes and the 'Strategic Framework for Socio Economic Justice', which has continued to promote the ratification of international conventions, because there are economic implications and can the country really afford these. She also asked about the progress with the appointment of the Information Regulator. Lastly, she wanted to raise the issue of transformation of the sheriffs of small claims court and warned that the do-it-yourself forms at the small claims court, because there are disparate levels of literacy.
Ms Sindane replied to the concern about a duplication between Justice College and SAJEI does not exist, because SAJEI trains judicial officers, while Justice College trains Department employees. Regarding systems for third party funds she said that all risk management efforts possible were in place and that SITA had caused the delay in the procurement of a third party fund management system. She then replied to the suggestion that the Department merges its Sexual Offences Register with that of the Department of Social Development, however there are technical issues which would obstruct the office from doing so completely, however the departments have communicated regarding this. Turning to the specifics of maintenance claims she said that the new Maintenance Amendment Bill deals with issues around quantum, attachment and black listing of defaulters. She then responded to the concerns about the transformation of sheriffs, saying that at least the Department has been able to significantly alter the racial profile of sheriffs, as well as the services they provide; however she conceded that the sheriff's services sometimes are not available everywhere needed. This will be solved by amendments to the Sheriff's Act, enabling government officials to serve court process. Dealing with the question about the Information Regulator, she said that due to delays in the passing of the Protection of Personal Information Act, the Department was not able to put a budget to the establishment of the Information Regulator and the Department does have an action plan.
Mr Skosana dealt with retired judges remuneration saying that there are 158 retired judges,59 widows and 241 permanent judges.
Mr M Maila (ANC) spoke to the issue of aligning of municipal boundaries with court's boundaries and asked whether the Department is collaborating with other departments in this regard. Next, he asked about the 100 women lawyers trained in conjunction with the Department and what contribution these women were making to the South African Justice system. Finally, he asked the Department to advertise small claims courts, especially in rural areas, because this is where they could be an important benefit to people.
Ms Sindane replied that the Department is working with all other departments through regional coordination committees and these are multi-partisan committees. She then agreed that small claims courts were not known enough in rural areas, however the DoJ&CD does make use of radio shows.
A Committee member said that the fact that municipal and judicial boundaries are unaligned 20 years into democracy is unacceptable and all of them need to be done, rather than the number quoted in the presentation. He then said that he could not over emphasise the issues with the DPW because of their effect on access to justice and the budgetary implications for the DoJ&CD and further that these issues had been dealt with by the Department of Correctional Services through the signing of service level agreements with the DPW and perhaps this would work here too. Lastly, he asked for clarity on whether the DoJ&CD meant R8 million worth of small debtors or 8 million individual debtors and why it was not possible to pay all of these within 30 days.
Ms Sindane thanked the Member for the suggestion relating to the service level agreements, however indicated that these were already in place and perhaps their ineffectiveness was due to poor drafting. She then clarified that the Department meant R8miillion and further that this does not include small businesses which are prioritised and what would be left is the money owning to other government departments.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) was concerned to know the details about the delays in the finalisation of the Mpumalanga and South Gauteng High Court court buildings and what the Committee could do to assist. She also wanted more detail on the management of backlog criminal cases.
A department official replied that the DoJ&CD is working with DPW and part of the delay was due to the Department redrafting its specifications which leads to the project starting from the beginning, therefore it plans to build internal capacity in order to better deal with this. Examples of planned positions include architects and civil engineers. He then said that the planned completion date for the Polokwane court is January 2015 and September 2014 for Mpumalanga; here the delay was partially due to strike action and delays in approval by the DPW.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) started by commending the Department on trying to fast track cases. He also wanted to the Department to look into the granting of bail, because when the amount is small it does not make sense to place an additional burden on the state by detaining the person and also this adds to overcrowding. He added that he felt that there was a need for prisoners to be sent to detention facilities with the judgement and sentence, so that the prison can classify inmates. He wanted to know why only one company is tasked with transcription. Regarding the alignment of judicial boundaries, he suggested that it be altered to the nearest court rather than having these boundaries correspond to municipal boundaries. He also suggested that it could be useful to have courts in the rural areas being compulsorily run in vernacular, with the interpreter interpreting for the record. Regarding the Service Charter he asked if people actually read these and whether they are being printed in African Languages. He also suggested that a form of urgent application should be introduced into the lower courts. He was very concerned about the non-payment of electricity and water leading to these facilities being retracted. Lastly, he asked about private advocates being used in litigation, especially high profile cases.
Ms Sindane replied that there were various stages at which one could get bail and that it was unfortunate that these instruments were not used more often. Regarding the Service Charter she said that it has been printed in various languages and is distributed according to the dominant language in the court's area. As for Veritas being the service provider of transcription services she did not know, but could find out. Regarding the suggestion that territorial jurisdiction being replaced with the nearest court having jurisdiction, she said that this does not take into account the courts capacity in relation to the people nearby to it, but it is an innovation that the DoJ&CD will consider moving forward.
A Committee member requested that more courts and master's offices be built in rural areas, because these are essential services. She also asked for clarity on the position of the Chief Justice when he said that the Office would like to be able to hire whoever it wants. Lastly, she wanted to know how the DOJ&CD encourages women lawyers to be in the position to be appointed as judges, particularly regarding the necessary experience.
Ms Sindane replied that the building of courts was prioritised in rural areas and the same went for master's offices.
In response to the question about encouraging women lawyers to pursue the position of judge and state briefs, a department official replied that these are part of the Department's strategy to give these women the requisite experience.
Ms K Litchfield-Tshabalala (EFF) spoke to page 35 of the budget presentation which gives a breakdown of the funding for sub-programmes and asked why the Office of the Public Protector is so desperately underfunded, especially considering that it had reported that 41% of its approved organisational structure was unfunded and would like to know how the Public Protector is supposed to function. She then commented that restorative justice could play a critical role in reducing the high levels of crime, because this could be useful in transforming the legal system; this is especially so in terms of sexual offences where the perpetrator is forced to come to terms with the damage they have caused the victim. Regarding the project Legal Aid South Africa is involved in which aims to identify the causes of the backlog in court cases, she asked whether up until now the Department was unaware of the causes of this backlog. Lastly, she wanted to emphasise the futility of high sentencing as a deterrent and said that with this the next step is the privatisation of prisons which provides an incentive for high sentences and she believes that this causes further problems by further criminalising offenders on prisons and causing over-crowding.
The Chairperson said that he has been following the issue of transformation of the legal system for some time and that it goes beyond mere reorganisation of the system. What needed to be done was to bring a change in the prevalent legal and judicial philosophy, especially because South Africa is an African country and indigenous values should be brought to the forefront and not just relegated to traditional courts. He said that if there was anything which united the country it was the concept of Ubuntu which was not tribal and was non-racial and if this could be the basis of our philosophy of law this could address problems like over-crowding and the case backlog. This is especially so because the socio-economic conditions which lead to the high levels of crime are only exacerbated by the state funds which are drained through a criminal justice system which is so reliant on prison as the answer. He then said that we could learn from history, specifically the eighties when the apartheid state was rendered unworkable and the community turned within itself and created a community justice system modelled on the traditional dispute resolution system. Seeing the success these had, perhaps this is a viable pathway. Furthermore, similar systems have been legislated and worked in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. He also said that African international instruments should be made use of more often, as these are tailored to the African context and promote African values. He also suggested that just as proficiency in Afrikaans was a requirement for lawyers during apartheid, that proficiency in an indigenous language could be made a requirement for the attainment of an LLB, making the law more accessible to the people. Further, he supported Mr Mpumlwana's idea of running rural courts in the dominant vernacular language in the area. Lastly, he said that the Department of Basic Education had been successfully opening schools on a weekly basis, without the involvement of the DPW and perhaps the DoJ&CD could benefit from this experience.
Ms Sindane noted the Chairperson's comments on the need to fuse African principles with the current jurisprudence and said she will take them forward in the future
The Chairperson declared the meeting adjourned.
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