Repeal of Black Administration Act & Amendment of Certain Laws A/B: finalisation; Remuneration of Magistrates Committee report

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Justice and Correctional Services

12 June 2006
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Meeting report

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 June 2006
REPEAL OF BLACK ADMINISTRATION ACT & AMENDMENT OF CERTAIN LAWS A/B: FINALISATION; REMUNERATION OF MAGISTRATES COMMITTEE REPORT


Chairperson:
Ms F Chohan-Kota (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Repeal of the Black Administration Act And Amendment of Certain Laws Amendment Bill [B11-2006]
Proposed Amendments to the Bill
Committee Report on Repeal of Back Administration Act Amendment Bill
Committee Report on the Remuneration of Magistrates

SUMMARY
The Committee considered an amendment to Clause 1 of the Bill and adopted the Bill with amendments and its report on it. The Bill did not include issues that had been raised by the Department of Land Affairs due to time constraints. The Committee also adopted its report on the remuneration of magistrates. The Chairperson stressed the need to have parity in terms of salaries of magistrates and prosecutors.

MINUTES
Repeal of Black Administration Act and Amendment of Certain Laws Amendment Bill The Committee considered amendments to the Bill. The Chairperson said that in the previous meeting the Committee had decided to include matters raised by the Department of Land Affairs in the Bill. There were procedural difficulties related to the issues. Because of the need to pass the Bill urgently, the Committee should amend the decision and pass the Bill without the proposal raised by the Department of Land Affairs. The Bill was passed with amendments. (See document attached).

Report on the Repeal of Back Administration Act and Amendment of Certain Laws
The Chairperson took the Committee through the report which was then unanimously adopted by members. In the report, the Committee had requested the Department to take certain steps by no later than 15 February 2007. (See document attached). The original date was 15 March 2007 but changed after Mr J Jeffrey, Parliamentary Counsellor to the President, had said that that date was too late.

Committee Report on the Remuneration of Magistrates
The Committee considered its report on the remuneration of magistrates. This report should have been tabled by the end of 2005. The Committee had conducted joint hearings with the Select Committee on Security and Constitution Affairs. The Chairperson took the Committee through the report and encouraged Members to propose amendments that would be noted and then discussed and possibly adopted in a joint meeting with the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs.

Ms S Camerer (DA) said that the Committee was expected to conduct oversight on the Executive. She noted that the President of the Republic of South Africa had indicated his support for the introduction of the proposed new motor vehicle allowances for Magistrates and Senior Magistrates. The Minister of Finance had also indicated that he was prepared to appropriate funds to defray the expenditure related to the allowance. Government departments were also in the process of developing a remunerative structure based on parity to negate the adverse consequences of magistrates' salaries being raised to disparate levels. The raising of salaries of magistrates could have destabilising effects on other institutions of justice, especially the National Prosecuting Authority. The Committee should only take into account the fact that Departments were developing remunerative structures based on parity. The fact that the President and the Minister of Finance supported a particular initiative did not mean that the Committee had to agree with it.

The Chairperson said that there was no suggestion that the Committee would recommend something simply because it had the support of the President and the Minister. The most important thing was the effect that the raising of salaries of magistrates had on other people employed by government in the legal sector.


Mr L Joubert (DA) said that magistrates were judicial officers and not employees of the State. He wondered if it was necessary to compare magistrates with other legally qualified people. There was a difference between the two.

The Chairperson said that it was not a question of saying that there should be equality but that there should be parity. Parity was different from equality.

Mr Joubert said that there should be parity amongst legally qualified people employed by the State but not between such people and the magistrates.

The Chairperson said that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had indicated that it was losing a lot of experienced people to the magistracy because the salaries were so desperate. The difference in salaries was around R170 000. A person only needed five years post university experience in order to qualify as a magistrate. There were prosecutors who had 10 to 20 years experience but where earning less than magistrates. This was one of the reasons why the Committee had conducted hearings on this issue. Another problem was that magistrates earned the same amount despite the fact that some of them had been on the job for a number of years. There should be a matrix or grid where all the salaries would be plotted.

Mr Joubert said that magistrates had to come from somewhere and the practice was that they were appointed from prosecutors. Prosecutors who had been appointed to the magistracy were not being lost since they remained in the justice system.

The Chairperson said that the Magistrates Commission had moved away from the practice of appointing magistrates from prosecutors only in its efforts to bringing different dimensions to the bench. The NPA had also tried to create a career path so that people who wanted to remain as prosecutors could stay within the system. It had established various ranks of prosecutors and it was those ranks that it said were being undermined.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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