Correctional Services; Office of the Chief Justice; Justice and Constitutional Development Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports

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Justice and Correctional Services

18 October 2017
Chairperson: Mr M Motshekga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered three draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRR) on the Department of Correctional Services, Office of the Chief Justice and Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. There were a few grammatical changes.

Most of the discussion centred on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development BRRR where Members discussed additional funding to the NPA, the use of African languages in courts and the need for clear time frames for regulating paralegals among other things.

The Committee adopted all three reports, with the DA putting reservations forward.

Meeting report

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee would consider three Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRR).

Draft BRRR on the Department of Correctional Services
The Committee went through the document page by page and Members were invited to make comments.

Mr Mpho Mathabathe, Committee Researcher, noted a minor grammatical error on page 2. He also referred the Committee to page 16 paragraph 9.9, highlighting to the Committee that there was huge spending within the Department of Correctional Services, with a notable R700 million on one contract. He asked the Committee members if they would opt for different words, which shows a strong stance against those irregular expenditures.

Ms C Pilane-Majeke (ANC) responded that there is a Presidential proclamation for an to investigate the matter. Since an investigation is underway, and Committee is unaware of the outcome, it would be better to interrogate the matter after the fact.

Ms Pilane-Majeke referred the Committee to page 18 and said there needs to be correction on a paragraph which spoke to reducing posts within the Department of Correctional Services. She highlighted that due to high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality, it would be important for posts that are available and positions budgeted for to be occupied. She added that these posts must not be turned into internships.

The Chairperson asked if Members agreed to effect the change.

Members agreed.

The Chairperson informed the members that the adoption of reports will be done at the end.

Draft BRRR on the Office of the Chief Justice
The Committee went through the document page by page and Members were invited to make comments.

There were no changes, corrections or amendments made on this document.

Draft BRRR on Justice and Constitutional Development
The Committee went through the document page by page and Members were invited to make comments.

Ms Pilane-Majeke referred Members to page 30, where additional funding for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was mentioned. She asked whether the NPA had submitted a figure to that effect.

The Chairperson replied in the negative and asked Members for a way forward.

Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) suggested that the Committee Secretary makes a follow up on the figure, then the Committee can adopt the report while the figure is reflected.

Ms Christine Silkstone, Committee Content Adviser, suggested removing the table from page 30 and that the Committee may agree generally that there is additional funding needed without putting a figure.

Ms Pilane-Majeke agreed and further said the Committee can always approve the figure for additional funding later. She added that such approval would be subject to a consideration of the country’s financial standing.

Members agreed to the suggestion.

Ms Pilane-Majeke referred members to page 73, and suggested that the report not state what the additional funding for the NPA is about.

Ms Silkstone responded that it was possible to do that; however that would mean the Committee would be agreeing to everything put on the table by the NPA.

Ms Pilane-Majeke said she was hesitant to outline what the additional funding should be used for when it was not yet finalised.

The Chairperson clarified that it was a question of formulation, and it was important that the additional funding matter be formulated properly and accurately.

Ms G Breytenbach (DA) asked for clarity on what the Members were suggesting.

Ms Pilane-Majeke responded that a better formulation would be to say “The Committee supports additional funding to the NPA in accordance with what has been highlighted in the report.” She said this was because what the Committee will put in its BRRR may differ from what the NPA may have in mind.

Ms Breytenbach said she did not agree with giving the NPA the opportunity to have carte blanche with funding. It was important to specify what the funding was for, mentioning the specific purposes.

Ms Pilane-Majeke said the report that was coming will clarify.

The Chairperson said when recommendations at the end do not capture everything that emerges from the report, the Committee would need to address that.

Ms M Mothapo (ANC) said there are many issues concerning the organisational structure. She noted issues pertaining to the transformation agenda have been discussed for the past three years with no detail. To this, she proposed that the Committee acts on it with explicit time frames. She stressed the inclusion of indigenous African languages in the curriculum. She further addressed the issue of time frames in relation to black legal practitioners and women in particular.

Ms Mothapo also said the land issue in respect of programme 5 and funding for legal aid which assists in critical issues needs to be addressed through a programme of action and time frames . In terms of rural development, she commented that legal practitioners in Johannesburg were indirectly depriving opportunities for attorneys in rural areas. Further, she touched on legislation that has an impact on traditional communities, saying there is a need to go to provinces and meet with the masses and there is a need for a time frame for it. Lastly, she highlighted the need for a paralegal policy and addressing issues relating to community advice offices adding that there is a need for clear and defined time frames.

The Chairperson replied that the matters raised by Ms Mothapo have been correctly raised flowing from the report. This would form a programme of action with time frames so that everybody knows where the Committee is going. He asked Ms Mothapo to submit a programme of action so that it forms part of the report for incorporation.

Mr Mpumlwana said the question of official language in court needed to be addressed. He gave an example of a policeman in court with documents determining the whole case in English which he did not understand. He said it should be made mandatory to use African language in court as opposed to saying “free to use their languages on court”. He said this should be in addition to what Ms Mothapo raised.

The Chairperson agreed, and further said that it does not make sense to have all role players speaking the same indigenous language and have court proceedings conducted in English. The judiciary is saying the language of record for now is English. However; it does not mean in an area where people speak a particular language, English is imposed. hat Mr Mpulwana and Ms Mothapo had raised were pertinent issues that needed to be put forward into the programme of action. He added on that the Department of Justice commissioned universities to deal with the issue of languages but that has been happening for the past 10 years. He stressed the need for time frames as raised by Mr Mpumlwana and Ms Mothapo.

Ms Pilane-Majeke said the issue of the languages is not part of the provision for legal practice. If that were the case, it would be the responsibility of the National Forum on the Legal Profession. In view of the fact the Committee is going to be meeting with the Forum, it would be important to give them deadlines as to when this should be done.

The Chairperson agreed adding that when the Committee meets with the Forum, the matter of deadlines can be addressed.

Mr M Maila (ANC) agreed with what the Chairperson and Ms Pilane-Majeke said. He however added that the Committee is not stopped from setting time frames and they can be implemented.

The Chairperson agreed, saying the Committee should not be dependent on the Forum. The Committee sees the urgent need of time frames and thus must put them in place.

Ms Mothapo said it was fortunate that the Committee will not be operating from a vacuum as there is the Use of Official Languages Act which has not been implemented. She added that when the Committee meets with the Forum, it should tell them about that Act.

All three reports were adopted, however with reservations by the DA.

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