The Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development presented reports on their first quarter performance for 2019/20.
The OCJ carried out its mandate through three programmes: Administration (Programme One), Superior Court Services (Programme Two), and Judicial Education and Support (Programme Three)
In terms of the non-financial performance, the Office had 14 planned targets for Q1: 10 were achieved, 4 were not.
In Programme One, five targets were achieved, one was failed (83%).
In Programme Two, two targets were achieved, three were failed (40%)
In Programme Three, all 3 targets were achieved.
Underspending identified was largely due to external factors beyond the OCJ’s control.
The discussion was wide-ranging as Members asked about the security and maintenance at the courts, the progress of sexual offences courts and regulations, why judges did not receive monthly deliveries of the SA Law Report, why salary increments were implemented earlier, the draft accountability model and the appointment of Land Claims Court judges. Members were also displeased with the issuance of a Practice Directive from the Judge President of the Gauteng High Court, which they feared would unfairly prejudice poor plaintiffs.
The Department reported that 50/82 targets were met in quarter 1, translating to 61% performance.
The challenges to the Department and its budget were highlighted as follows:
- The Judicial Yellow Pages was beyond a legacy system, but there is a moratorium on implementing systems whilst IFMS was being developed. JYP was dependent on 1 person in the SITA. Issues with the JYP impacted on the asset register – uploads onto the system disappeared from one day to the next.
- Recovery of state attorney debt (R1.2bn). 70% of this debt was from the Department of Health. An option to prevent further debt was to ask for prepayments and MoUs.
- State Attorney and NPA accuracy and completeness of reporting for the contingent liability register.
- Irregular expenditure was of grave concern on procurement due to the interpretation of the Auditor General on term contracts. There was a risk for term contract extensions to be determined irregular.
- The impact of the compensation cap on service delivery including support staff posts vs. core services in regions
- Inadequate capacity to administrate all the procurement bids as well as the increasing wariness of officials to serve on these committees and related declining of appointments as well as sickness during sittings
- Filling of critical positions in the SCM – there was a 75% vacancy rate in the bid office and 100% in ICT procurement.
The Department further highlighted the strain placed on its finances by the NPA’s need for capacitation and multiple Commissions of Inquiry. In addition, it lamented the potentially negative impacts of the cut in its budget proposed by National Treasury.
The discussion was wide-ranging as Members asked about the TRC Report, the National Action Plan on Xenophobia and Anti-Racism, the State Capture Commission, the Femicide Watch initiative, the review of security contracts, an incident at the Western Cape High Court, the payment of legal maintenance and the upkeep of court infrastructure.
The Committee asked the Department to submit a number of reports the 25th of September.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone. He proposed to begin with the presentation by the Office of the Chief Justice, followed by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
He informed the Committee of a letter pertaining to the processing of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill from the Chair of Chairs, Mr C Frolick (ANC). The Bill had been submitted in terms of joint rule 159, and Mr Frolick had decided to instruct the two houses to confer on the bill in terms of rule 147. The Speaker of the Assembly had asked the Committee to interact with its NCOP colleagues so it could decide on when to process the bill and when a joint sitting could take place.
Briefing by Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ)
Ms Memme Sejosengwe, Secretary-General, OCJ, introduced her delegation.
Mr Itumeleng Malao, Director: Monitoring and Evaluation and Reporting, OCJ, presented the Quarter One performance report for 2019/20 financial year.
The OCJ was created by the President in 2010 to provide support to the Chief Justice. The office was created pursuant of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution – which empowered the Chief Justice to establish norms and standards for the exercise of judicial functions of all courts, and designated the Constitutional Court as the apex court. The OCJ is mandated to support the CJ in executing administrative and judicial powers and duties as the Head of Judiciary and Head of the Constitutional Court.
The OCJ’s vision was a single, transformed and independent judicial system that guaranteed access to justice for all. Its mission was to provide support to the judicial system to ensure effective and efficient court administration.
The 3 Strategic Goals of the OCJ were:
-Effective administration of the OCJ
-Improved administrative and technical support to the judiciary
-Ensuring administrative support to the superior courts
The OCJ carried out its mandate through three programmes: Administration (Programme One), Superior Court Services (Programme Two), and Judicial Education and Support (Programme Three)
In terms of the non-financial performance of the OCJ, the Office had 14 planned targets for Q1: 10 were achieved, 4 were not.
In Programme One, five targets were achieved, one was failed (83%).
In Programme Two, two targets were achieved, three were failed (40%)
In Programme Three, all 3 targets were achieved.
Programme One, Administration included the following subprogrammes:
-Management had 4 planned quarterly targets, all the targets were achieved.
-Corporate Services did not have quarterly targets planned for during the quarter under review.
-Financial Administration had 1 planned quarterly target and it was achieved.
-Internal Audit had 1 planned quarterly target and it was not achieved.
-Office Accommodation did not have quarterly targets planned for during the quarter under review
The failed target in the Internal Audit subprogramme was a goal of 100% of internal audits completed, but only 86% was achieved. The reason therefore was the addition of a new area, taxation, which, due to the specialised nature of the topic, could not be completed in time. It had been fast tracked for completion in Q2.
Programme Two, Superior Court Services, included the following subprogrammes:
-Administration of Superior Courts (2/5 targets achieved)
-Supreme Court of Appeals
Failed targets were as follows:
-Percentage achievement of quasi-judicial targets was targeted for 100%, only 96% achieved due to the number of applications queried by registrars.
-Percentage of default judgments finalised by registrars per year was also targeted for 100% whereas only 95% were completed, again due to the number of applications queried by registrars.
-Percentage of taxations of legal costs finalised per year had a 100% target, but only 98% was achieved, again due to the number of applications queried by registrars.
Programme Three, Judicial Education and Support, included the following subprogrammes:
-SAJEI (1/1 achieved)
-Judicial Policy, Research and Support (1/1 achieved)
-JSC (1/1 achieved)
Mr Casper Coetzer, CFO, OCJ, presented the Q1 financial performance by programme:
-Programme One: R5.9m underspend
-Programme Two: R14.9m underspend
-Programme Three: R286 000 underspend
-Direct Charge of judges’ salaries: R2.9m underspend.
The total underspend was R23.4m.
The deviation in Programme One related to the non-payment of Nambithi invoices for contracted ICT due to disputed invoices and late submission – payment would reflect in Q2.
The deviation in Programme Two reflected a 7.5% underspend relating to outstanding invoices for leased vehicles for judges due to a change in billing system by the provider, gFleet – payment would reflect in Q2.
The deviation in Programme Three reflected the non-filling of funded vacancies.
Mr Malao thanked the Committee.
The Chairperson thanked the presenters and moved on to the Department of Justice presentation.
Briefing by Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD)
Mr Vusi Madonsela, Director-General, DOJCD, introduced his team.
Mr Madonsela noted the Department had 4 strategic goals:
-Optimisation of the use of the people, processes and technology to meet service delivery and good governance requirements
-People-centred justice services that are accessible, reliable and efficient
-Corporatised, cost effective and integrated quality legal services to proactively protect the interests of the state
-Promotion of constitutionalism, human rights and commitment to international legal relations.
In Q1, 50/82 targets were met, translating to 61% performance. The Q1 report was divided into two parts: programme performance on 4/5 programmes, and the NPA’s programme report, which would be presented by the National Director of Public Prosecutions to the committee at another occasion.
During the build-up to the national and provincial elections, there was a directive from the Cabinet Office to stop new bills and legislation being introduced during the election period. Evidence of this was clear in the non-performance of certain programmes.
Ms Lebo Mphahlele-Ntsasa, Chief Director: Strategy Unit, DOJCD, continued the presentation, focusing on the Department’s 4 programmes (excluding the NPA). 50/82 targets were reached. Programme One saw 1 of 4 targets achieved, Programme Two 8 of 15, Programme Three 21 of 32. Programme Four (NPA) 17 of 28, and Programme Five 3 of 3.
Programme One: Administration involved providing strategic leadership, management and support services. Strategic objectives included: increased compliance to achieve and sustain an unqualified audit, increased PAIA-compliant public bodies, and the optimisation of organisational structure, systems and process. A key failed target was the lack of approval of the draft combined assurance model.
Programme Two: Court Services was targeted at facilitating resolution of criminal and civil cases, as well as family disputes, by providing accessible, efficient and quality administrative support to courts. Its strategic objectives were:
-An efficient and effective integrated criminal justice system that enhanced public confidence
-Enhancing a victim-centric criminal justice system
-Enhanced and integrated family law services
-Increased access to courts by historically marginalised communities
-Efficient and effective civil justice system
-Transformation of the South Africa legal system enhanced
The Department aimed to adapt 16 courts in line with Article 9 of the Presidential Summit Declaration against GBV, achieving adaptation of 2 in Q1 (in line with targets). Only 29% of pending sexual offence convictions were approved in the ICMS NRSO by the Registrar, under the target of 100%. A new operational model for Family Law advocates was being developed.
Programme Three: State Legal Services aimed to provide legal and legislative services to government, supervise trust registration, the administration of estates, management of the Guardian’s Fund, facilitation of constitutional development and undertaking of research. Strategic objectives were:
-Increased access to master’s services
-Transformation of State Legal Services
-Reduction of state legal costs
-Provision of quality legal advisory services
-Increased compliance with international treaty obligations by the Department
-Development of legislative instruments that are certified and consistent with the constitution
-Enhancing promotion and protection of the rights of LGBTI persons
-Combating of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
-Implementation of TRC recommendations
One of the key failures was the percentage reduction in the capital amount claimed in medical negligence. In relation to unlawful arrest and detention claims against the state – there was a 76% reduction while 97% was targeted. Only 53% of a targeted 65% of litigation cases were settled.
Programme Five: Auxiliary and Associated Services was largely focused on justice modernisation. Key performance was on the connection of departments and entities to the Integrated Justice System (IJS). 8/8 targeted departments or entities were connected.
In conclusion, the Department achieved 61% overall performance in the first quarter including the NPA. The EXCO continued to track performance against the APP, hoping to move towards 80% as the year progressed.
Ms Loraine Rossouw, Acting COO, DOJCD, presented the expenditure report for Q1.
Mr X Nqola (ANC) intervened, stating that he had not received the report in advance.
Ms Rossouw replied that she had submitted in the required timeframe.
The Chair stated he would investigate this.
Ms Rossouw continued with the presentation.
Programme spending was as follows:
-Programme One: Administration - expenditure increased by 19% due to the State Capture Commission.
-Programme Two: Court Services - expenditure decreased by 3% due to underspending on infrastructure resulting from the lack of progress on Department of Public Works projects.
-Programme Three: State Legal Services – expenditure increased by 11% due to the filling of vacancies
-Programme Four: NPA – expenditure increased by 9% due to salary increases
-Programme Five: Auxiliary and Associated Services decreased by 16% due to delayed procurement and claims from other department in relation to the IJS
Expenditure by economic classification was as follows:
-Compensation increased 10%
-Goods and services increased 22%
-Payments for financial assets decreased 72%
-Transfers and subsidies decreased 20%
-Payment for capital assets decreased 61%
The main concern was under-commitment of funds to DPW projects. The Department requested the shifting of unspent funds to goods and services in order to do maintenance on courts, which was now in its ambit.
The State Capture Commission was affecting the Department’s consultant and agency expenditures.
National Treasury’s quoted budget cuts over the medium term were not affordable to the Department. Discussions were, however, underway with the IJS cluster to potentially result in a baseline adjustment increase of R551.3m with effect from the next financial year. R368.9m would go to the NPA, R77.4m to DOJCD, R20m to Legal Aid SA, R70m to the Special Investigative Unit and R15m to the Information Regulator.
Ms Rossouw then detailed the possible impact of budget cuts by economic classification. R853m of the R1.3bn cut would come off the compensation of employees, which would lead to large job losses.
The Department had submitted three unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure requests for approval by Treasury: a R185.8m request for funding the State Capture Commission, R40.2m for the PIC Commission, and R64.43m for the NPA. The R38m facility for setting up the new Investigative Directorate in the NPA would be funded out of the Department’s baseline through reprioritisation.
There was a request to the Treasury to approve the movement of funds from the infrastructure budget to:
-Psychiatric observation R102m
-Infrastructure maintenance R70m
-Replacement of outdated computer equipment R50m
-Replacement of old fleet R35m
-Internal investigation R50m
-Funding for Investigative Directorate R38m
-Transfer to OCJ for maintenance R10m
The rollover of R29.6m to the State Capture Commission was declined by the Treasury, and the Commission was advised to exercise expenditure control.
Irregular expenditure was at R1.1bn for the first quarter: certain cases of irregular expenditure were under investigation by external forensic investigators.
In terms of fruitless and wasteful expenditure – the main outstanding amount of the total R1.9m related to storage fees for the Mpumalanga High Court furniture that would be resolved in the current financial year. The rest involved no-show penalties.
Ms Rossouw then moved on to challenges to the DOJCD and its budget:
-The Judicial Yellow Pages was beyond a legacy system, but there is a moratorium on implementing systems whilst IFMS was being developed. JYP was dependent on 1 person in the SITA. Issues with the JYP impacted on the asset register – uploads onto the system disappeared from one day to the next.
-Recovery of state attorney debt (R1.2bn). 70% of this debt was from the Department of Health. An option to prevent further debt was to ask for prepayments and MoUs.
-State Attorney and NPA accuracy and completeness of reporting for the contingent liability register.
-Irregular expenditure was of grave concern on procurement due to the interpretation of the Auditor General on term contracts. There was a risk for term contract extensions to be determined irregular.
-The impact of the compensation cap on service delivery including support staff posts vs. core services in regions
-Inadequate capacity to administrate all the procurement bids as well as the increasing wariness of officials to serve on these committees and related declining of appointments as well as sickness during sittings
-Filling of critical positions in the SCM – there was a 75% vacancy rate in the bid office and 100% in ICT procurement.
The Chairperson thanked the presenters, and welcomed the delegation from Rape Crisis South Africa.
He proposed a five-minute break.
The Committee returned.
The Chairperson noted the DG had asked to be excused due to illness. The Chairperson opened the floor to members to ask questions to the Office of the Chief Justice.
Adv G Breytenbach (DA) noted that, on 4 September 2019, a group of people had forced their way past security at the Western Cape High Court and demanded to speak to the Judge President. What was the status of security at this court and courts in general? She had also complained to the Deputy Minister that judges did not receive monthly deliveries of the SA Law Report (SALR). There was no substitute for the SALR, and it was required for judges to exercise their duties. In the South Gauteng High Court and others, elevators and air conditioning were broken for up to 15 years. The lack of maintenance was harming the exercise of justice – what was being done in this regard? On the break-in at the OCJ in 2017, computers were stolen with sensitive information involved. What was the progress on this matter, why had no arrests been made, and what was being done to ensure SAPS was pursuing this case? If SAPS was part of the problem, what could the Committee do to ensure arrests were made?
Adv Breytenbach further requested an update on the progress of e-filing for courts.
Mr W Horn (DA) noted the OCJ’s mention of a failure to meet targets in terms of quasi-judicial issues and summary judgments. The reason given was failure of litigants to follow proper rules. This specific explanation was problematic and needed to be unpacked. To the benefit of the OCJ, if the litigant did not follow rules, matters could still be finalised. Why were salary increments, envisioned for Q2, implemented earlier? In terms of the draft accountability model: what progress has been made in development of this model? On the draft regulations for Sexual Offences Courts – this appeared in 2017 but had to be signed off by Chief Justice – was the OCJ in control of this process? If so, what is the progress on this matter? If it was not in the OCJ’s ambit, he requested comment from the Secretary General as to whether it would not be proper to involve the OCJ in this matter.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) requested clarity on whether the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) reported to Parliament through the OCJ. If so, he requested an update on Constitutional Court vacancies and complaints received. He stressed his concern over what was happening in the North and South Gauteng High Courts relating to the Practice Directive No. 2 of 2019, which related only to Road Accident Fund, Prasa and MEC for Health cases. There was a directive from the Judge President with a new requirement for trial readiness certificates, which seemed to have negatively affected plaintiffs. If the OCJ was aware of this issue, could it explain why it was targeted specifically at litigants in these cases, and did this not unfairly prejudice these litigants?
Adv T Mulaudzi (EFF) noted the comments with regards to consultation on the appointment of Land Claims Court judges. He re-emphasised the crucial concern raised by Mr Swart on court practice directives affecting only Gauteng and mostly poor people involved with RAF claims, Prasa issues and provincial hospitals in Gauteng. These cases would be delayed by the Judge President’s directive, and would likely only be heard by 2021. He complained that this was a pathetic situation, and only targeted certain litigants. What did the OCJ think about this?
Adv Mulaudzi also requested clarification on the implementation of the fraud prevention strategy. Finally, he sought clarity on the outcome of the meeting between the OCJ and DPW on court maintenance.
Mr Nqola noted that attacks against judges from members of the public had caused doubt in the abilities of the judiciary to carry out its duties. How was the OCJ handling this issue, which could lead to a lawless society?
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) asked for an update on draft regulations for sexual offences.
Adv H Mohamed (ANC) requested a clarification on the progress of the meeting between the Department of Public Works and the OCJ. Referencing the presentation, he asked whether the mentioned ICT invoices not claimed or paid before the end of July. On the changing of billing system for the gFleet contract, were the new invoices not submitted in time? On Judicial Education and Support: was the non-expenditure on training targeted on new entrants or existing legal officers?
Ms Sejosengwe responded that state-owned court infrastructure had been a historical problem. Functions related to infrastructure management were retained in the Department of Public Works. The meeting between the Chief Justice and Minister of Public Works took place last month. The Minister made commitments to the Chief Justice on infrastructure issues affecting the handling of cases. The Minister of Public Works also committed to attend the NEC on infrastructure issues with the OCJ, and to send DPW officials to attend PECs for provincial courts. Public Works had given an indication of what needed to happen.
The lifts and air conditioning in the Gauteng High Courts had been problematic. They were old, and there were complicated contractual issues that made maintenance difficult. The NEC and PEC would raise these issues and respond.
The Chairperson requested a clarification on the nature of the contractual issues and the age of the contracts.
Mr Coetzer responded that the contractual issues resided in the DPW. Contractual issues with OEM and Schindler were due to the expiry of contracts. New contracts have been signed and at present all elevators in both North and South Gauteng High Courts were functional.
Ms Sejosengwe reported that she was not aware of the non-delivery of the SA Law Report to judges.
Adv Jacob Skosana, Deputy Director General: Court Services, DOJCD, replied that this issue had not been brought to the OCJ’s attention. There was a month-to-month delivery of services now given the expiry of the previous tender, with a new tender scheduled for end October. There was a special committee dealing with this. There had been no reports of non-delivery of the SALR to judges.
Adv Breytenbach replied that she had received 5 reports from judges of non-delivery of SALR since March.
Adv Skosana replied that he would investigate the matter.
The Chairperson requested a written report on the matter within the next 2 weeks.
Ms Sejosengwe asked for detail on the courts concerned.
Adv Breytenbach replied that it was both the North and South Gauteng High Courts.
On the break-in, the Secretary General responded that SAPS had made no arrests since an initial arrest where the suspect could not be linked to the crime. The case had been foreclosed by SAPS.
Mr Coetzer responded to Adv Breytenbach’s question about security at the Western Cape High Court. Basic security was provided by a contractor to the DOJCD, and further security was the responsibility of the individual Court. On the given day, not enough security was available to ensure crowd control. Since this break-in, a security committee had been established with the Court and SAPS. SAPS provided 2 court orderlies and additional security on a case by case basis. The provincial DOJCD had provided additional security infrastructure including better access control, an increase in security staff and biometric access to the judges’ chambers.
Adv Breytenbach followed up, noting that court orderlies sat in courts. If people broke through downstairs barriers to reach the judges’ chambers, the orderlies would not necessarily be aware. What security was available to protect the judges’ chambers?
Mr Coetzer replied that the increase in scanners, private security and access control should address the issue.
He addressed the matter of the early increase in salaries: implementation of this was usually planned for July. The announcement of the salary increments took place earlier than usual and hence was implemented earlier, but this would be normalised over the financial year. On the Nambithi invoice payments, all payments had now been paid and would be reflected in Q2. On the gFleet contract, the contractor was responsible for invoicing the OCJ. Invoices were only received after the Q1 payment deadlines, as such payments would reflect in Q2. Filling of vacancies in court offices was the courts’ responsibility and did take some time.
The Secretary General indicated that the Draft Sexual Regulations ad been delivered to the Chief Justice. On the JSC and appointment of judges – there was no issue with the OCJ sharing this information with the Committee. This information would also be part of the JSC report submitted by the Chief Justice to Parliament.
In terms of the law, Practice Directives were the prerogative of the Judge President of the regional courts. Judges President always conferred with legal advisers before issuing these. The OCJ would follow up on this but the Committee would be best placed to consider this with the Courts themselves. On the accountability model, the status had not changed.
Corruption allegations against judges rested with the Chief Justice and the judiciary directly, and were not in the ambit of the OCJ.
Mr Nathi Mncube, Chief Director: Court Administration, OCJ, stated that the OCJ’s ambitious targets reflected its leadership by a very ambitious woman. The OCJ had realised that the 100% ambition on default judgments and taxations was too high given dependencies in the courts. Once all documentation was submitted to the Registrar, they could postpone, proceed, or drop cases. If documentation was missing, the issue was technically postponed and so the target could not be met. On e-Filing, the OCJ had been able to start with the e-Filing pilot in Johannesburg and Pretoria. The OCJ was aware of concerns on Practice Directives – the Judge President did issue them after engagement with the legal profession, and this engagement could be issued to the Committee.
Adv Skosana mentioned that, in the Land Claims Court, the Minister met with the Judge President and there would be progress to fast-track legislation, and a bill would be brought before the end of October to ensure permanence in the courts, given that the current legislation only provided for secondment.
Adv Swart noted that the Practice Directive was a severe barrier to access to justice for the chiefly poor and marginalised plaintiffs in Gauteng, whose cases had been removed from the roll. Adv Mulaudzi had pointed out it could be 2 years before these people were heard, which was unacceptable. He stressed the need for a written report on this issue with detail, proposing that the Committee would speak with the Chief Justice and Judge President
The Secretary General undertook to pass this sentiment on to the Chief Justice.
Adv Swart requested a short written report from the CJ and Judge President.
Adv Mohamed noted the 50/82 target achievement, understanding that these targets were normally self-defined. He requested clarity on the legal dispute with DPW on payments to the service provider for work outstanding at the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court. Were the Sexual Offences Courts announced compliant with the regulations under consideration by the Chief Justice? He requested a breakdown of the briefing to female counsel, especially from a race basis. What was the target audience for the National Action Plan on Xenophobia, and did it include SAPS? He requested an update on the current relationship with IDT. In terms of the budget, he noted the establishment of Investigative Directorate from the Departmental baseline. He proposed this meant taking away from ordinary courts. This money should be requisitioned from Treasury, as the DoJ budget was already stretched. On irregular expenditure, should the challenge of term contracts not be taken to the National Treasury’s level? He requested further detail on the impact of the compensation cap on service provision.
Ms N Maseko-Jele (ANC) expressed concern about the maintenance of courts. Even where new infrastructure was concerned there were significant failures. She asked whether the Committee should expect a third qualified audit report. In terms of payment of child maintenance, she recalled a claim of non-payment from a constituent, stressing that this was a frequent problem, and requested an update on the matter. She also complained that the treatment of sexual offenders as the same as any other criminal was incorrect. She noted that the target had not been met on the National Action Plan and that it was scheduled to be met in 2021. She requested an investigation or revision of the timeframe.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen asked if the foreign language interpreter policy included sign language, as access to courts for deaf people was incomplete and many cases brought by deaf people were thrown out or postponed. Why was there not a specific policy for sign language? On the Femicide Watch initiative, she requested more information on the programme, and remarked that the target was set for 2020 but action was needed immediately.
Mr Nqola requested detail on the internship programme of the Department. He commended the Femicide Watch initiative. On the project dealing with the repeal of apartheid-era legislation, he emphasised the need for the Department to be proactive in this matter. He wanted to know what the progress of the State Capture Commission was. Finally, he asked for a more nuanced explanation of the Department’s irregular expenditure.
Adv Breytenbach recalled that, in February 2019, ex-Minister Masutha reported that someone had been appointed to do a review of all security contracts, including those held by Bosasa, in 3 months. Could the Committee get an update on the progress of this report? In addition, she wanted an update on the suspension of a member of the judiciary due to revelations by Mr Agrizzi at the State Capture Commission.
Mr Horn expressed his dissatisfaction about the lack of progress on the National Action Plan – if there was no haste in finalising this, the fresh round of xenophobic violence should have made it obvious that there was a need for progress in this regard. He asked whether the new Sexual Offences Courts were being rolled out in line with the aforementioned sexual offences regulations, or whether they would have to change when these were released. Had the Department investigated possible risks emerging from publication of the Sexual Offenders Registry as espoused by the President? What plans had been made since the President’s announcement? He asked the Department for comment on the impact of the new child maintenance payment system on turnaround time and monitoring of payment.
Adv Mulaudzi also emphasised the importance of the National Action Plan’s timeframe in the context of the recent xenophobic attacks. He asked whether the matter of self-maintenance between the DOJCD and DPW was sorted. The current system took too long. Was it not better that the budget for maintenance go to the Department of Justice? He also registered his interest in the status of the Justice College? He invited an explanation on the State Attorney’s debt impact on the DOJCD. What measures were in place to prevent capture of the NPA from private funders given the Minister’s announcement the NPA would seek private funds to complete its budget?
Mr Q Dyantyi (ANC) recalled a list of issues the Committee had requested reports on in July – what was the progress of this? He noted the lack of mention of domestic violence in the reports. On the lack of foreign interpreters, he indicated that during his time on the Portfolio Committee for Home Affairs, this was often an issue as it impacted on their performance. What explained the planning confusion over an agreement with SAPS in the Femicide Watch initiative? He registered his concern over the Department’s project management approach. Concerning the State Capture Commission, he asked the Department if it had a sense as to when it will end. Why did the Commission ask for a roll-over in its expenditure? Would budget cuts affect the Magistrate’s Commission? If this happened, it would increase backlogs in lower courts. Could the Department give the Committee a breakdown of the consequences of irregular expenditure?
The Chairperson referred to the TRC Report and said it had been 21 years since the finalisation of the report. There could not be a process that lasts more than 20 years. By the end of this term this had to be completed.
Adv Skosana replied that the contractor in the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court was under business rescue. Negotiations with the DPW and the contractor were underway. Relating to the relationship with the IDT, the former Minister had reported some expenditure to the SIU and the DoJ would not undertake any new engagements with the entity. The current relationship only covered the construction of an access point at the Mpumalanga High Court.
On lifts and maintenance at courts, new constructions have advanced technological systems that demand more maintenance than older systems. There were two systems of maintenance – those that require high skill engineers were delegated to the DPW. DPW introduced the Total Management Facility programme, which allowed them to shift responsibility for some maintenance to the contracted entities responsible for construction.
Challenges related to payment of legal maintenance persisted despite strides in this matter. New regulation on the payment of maintenance was being introduced which should help the Department respond to this issue.
There was a project underway to review the provision of bail to perpetrators of GBV. The Department was meeting with the Peace and Security Cluster to ensure it addressed this issue.
The policy addressing both foreign language and sign language interpreters, which was previously managed ad hoc, was at an advanced stage. All the people engaged as interpreters had to be checked for quality and accredited to ensure they could execute the required duties. In the next quarterly report, the Department hoped to be far along in this regard and to implement a new interpreter database in the next year. The 300 interns usually referred to candidate attorneys who already had salaries.
The PIC Commission would finish its work by the end of October. The State Capture Commission was expected to complete its work by February next year. This Commission was established in connection with the Public Protector’s order, and its terms of reference could only be changed by the Constitutional Court. The Minister would meet with the Deputy Chief Justice in the coming weeks to discuss timeframe issues.
The introduced sexual offences courts had taken into consideration the regulations emanating from the GBV Summit Proclamation. The existing courts also had to change. The Department was alive to the declaration from the President on the Sexual Offenders Register. Issues pertaining to access to the register would have to consider matters of constitutionality.
On the maintenance of courts by the DOJCD, the Department had developed term contracts for maintenance of courts which should improve turnaround time. When maintenance was devolved to DOJCD and court managers, maintenance would improve. Managers would have access to service providers with agreed tariffs directly.
The Department was currently considering the Domestic Violence Act, and would report on the matter at its next presentation.
The Department was creating a new piloting system in the Eastern Cape and KZN with systems champions for the courts, so when there was a breakdown in the court they could be dealt with at local level instead of escalating to the national office.
Ms Rossouw explained that the funding of the Investigative Directorate, as reflected in the expenditure report, was drawn from underspending from infrastructure. This money was just to establish the directorate, which had to happen before proper budgeting could take place. As to where the Directorate was in terms of establishment, the NPA would have to reply.
Ms Rossouw complained that in the last 4 years, all the Department’s audit findings had arrived a week before deadline. SAPS got a lead on audit issues before the Department. She had engaged with the Auditor-General from July, as wee as other structures. The result of investigations was qualified audits. Audit opinions had historically been whether the financial statements were a fair representation of the finances. Now audit results were much more stringent and this made qualified audits more likely. The Committee could expect a qualification for the Department in its next AG report. The first qualified audit was, in her opinion, unjust. The previous year the qualification was on contingent liabilities. Of the three findings in the previous year, the Department solved two but kept one and earned a new qualification on moveable tangible assets which she found out about in the last week of July. Before, the DOJCD had 83 findings, whereas in the previous year it had only 26, most of which were major issues that were difficult to resolve. She was satisfied with this although the Committee most likely was not.
On the compensation gap and closure of courtrooms, the idea was to bring efficiency to the system. DOJCD wanted to utilise information and courtrooms efficiently. It didn’t help to have 5 courtrooms and use them for a short time rather than fewer rooms but longer hours.
Budget cuts were the Treasury’s proposed cuts. Money redeemed was money that had been given to SAPS for the IJS which would probably return to the DOJCD. The Department needed to align its resources to not over or under-capacitate parts of its system.
She was proud that the Department did not have small suppliers that were not paid on time, and had clean audits on the President Fund, Guardian Fund and TPF.
On the irregular expenditure investigation, investigators had been appointed. The Committee would likely receive a report at the next meeting. She could not comment further on this as a member of the supply chain. The irregular expenditure itself was mostly mentioned at the State Capture Commission. A deeper investigation would be required – the AG and internal audits did not pick them up across the years.
As regarded the new maintenance payment system (Mojapay), there should be no delay in payments if people used the correct reference number. There was no human intervention in the system. Exception reports were followed up on. In general, if the system was used correctly, money should reflect.
On the State Attorney debt redemption, DOJCD cannot refuse to defend a case because a Department had not paid it, the State Attorney was legally obliged to defend government departments.
In terms of IJS underspending, the money was in the DOJCD as it was overseen by a steering team involving Treasury and all the other entities concerned. All the systems had to be integrated. So, these projects with underspending usually had a procurement issue. Individual departments and entities procured and then claimed from the fund managed by the DOJCD. By the third term of implementation this underspending should not be present. The DOJCD had asked for an IJS-specific meeting with the committee.
The R368.9m to the NPA was to capacitate it. The private funding issue was never to pay someone’s salary or directly pay members of the NPA. The DG had taken personal responsibility with the NDPP to not receive any funding that would impact on their independence. As an example, Treasury gets funding from overseas and delegates it to departments without telling the departments where the money is from through the General Budget Support system.
The AFU question on Steinhoff was for the NPA.
The Chairperson requested clarity on donor funding. Was the NPA accepting money from international organisations without knowing?
Ms Rossouw replied that DOJCD would not know, but Treasury would. Treasury received the money and opened a bidding process for departments to submit business plans.
Ms Rossouw felt that the DOJCD’s financials looked good without the Commission, given it wants administration to be the smallest part of its business. Administrative costs dealt with the running of the business, and included accommodation and associated costs. Only 3% of administrative costs dealt with actual administration, the rest was accommodation and commissions.
In terms of consequence management, the first point of call was whether the system was designed adequately. If so, then the Department looked for who acted irregularly. Nothing could be removed from DOJCD financials without Treasury’s go-ahead.
She requested that the Department be allowed to give a presentation on the TRC Report. DOJCD was on the verge of finalising housing regulations, had consulted on community rehabilitation regulations and health regulations were held back by the NHI Bill.
Ms Mphahlele-Ntsasa reminded the Committee that DOJCD provided statistics on the breakdown of briefs provided on its website.
On the NAP, she noted the concerns of the Committee on its timeframe, agreeing that the targets were probably too lax. She committed to working with her unit and the Director General to speed up implementation
On CCTV, the Department’s cameras did work, but it had mandated in its APP that when they break down, courts should have a maintenance arrangement in place to fix them quickly.
DOJCD would make sure to finalise the Femicide Watch iniative as soon as possible. Work on GBV was led by the Department of Women. Femicide Watch was aimed at gathering statistics about crimes being dealt with, it was not that the crimes weren’t being addressed.
On the repeal of legislation, DOJCD was dealing with this. There was some legislation with positive effects, but the problem was that other legislation had to be replaced. It was not an easy project. By 31 March 2020, DOJCD needed to have a clear picture on who is to do what.
DOJCD would provide a report on State Attorney vacancies.
It was difficult to set targets on cases as the Department did not know how many cases it would have in a given year.
The Chairperson asked the DOJCD to submit all outstanding reports within the next two weeks, before 25 September.
The meeting was adjourned.
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