ATC210219: Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, dated 19February 2020

Justice and Correctional Services

The Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, dated 19February 2020


The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, having considered the financial and non-financial performance information of the Office of the Chief Justice and Judicial Administrationfor the financial year ending 31 March 2020 and First Quarter of 2020/21, reports as follows:


  1. Introduction


  1. The Money Bills Procedure Amendment and Related Matters Act 9 of 2009 sets out the process that allows Parliament to make recommendations to the Minister of Finance to amend the budget of a national department.


  1. In October of each year, portfolio committees must compile Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRR) that assess service delivery performance of departments, entities and institutions given their respectiveavailable resources; evaluate the effective and efficient use and forwardallocation of resources; and may make recommendations on the future allocation of resources. The annual review of expenditure and performancefor the previous financial year (2019/2020)also forms part of this process.


  1. In particular, section 5(1) of the Money Bills Act provides that committees must make their assessment of the performance of national departments and institutions, with reference to the following:
  • The medium term estimates of expenditure of each national department, its strategic goals and measurable objectives, as tabled in the National Assembly with the national budget;
  • Prevailing strategic plans;
  • The expenditure reports or statements relating to a vote appropriating funds for such department published by the National Treasury in terms of section 32 of the Public Finance Management Act;
  • The financial statements and annual report of such department;
  • The reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts relating to a department; and
  • Any other information requested by or presented to a House or Parliament.


  1. Committees may make recommendations on the future allocation of resources, having assessed service delivery performance to date; evaluated the effective and efficient use of the resources already allocated; and considered the planned forward allocation of resources.


  1. Committees ordinarily schedule meetings to prepare for the BRRR in the first two weeks of October each year, right after the annual reports are tabled at the end of September.


  1. This year, the Minister of Finance extended the time-frame for the tabling of the annual reports and financial statements of departments and institutions, exempting Executive Authorities from tabling these documents within six-months after the end of the financial year. Instead, Executive Authorities must table the annual reports within two months after the normal deadline, that is, by the end of November. These timeframes have been extended owing to the lockdown imposed to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.


  1. The work of portfolio committees has also been disrupted, as they have been unable to finalise their BRRR without sight of the audited information and financial statements contained in the annual reports.


  1. Nonetheless, committees met in October to conduct a preliminary assessment of departmental performance and expenditure for the relevant period, making use of the information that was available at the time. The quarterly reports of departments also formed part of this interim process.


  1. The Committee oversees the Office of the Chief Justice(OCJ), which was established in 2010 primarily to support the Chief Justice in the execution of his/her administrative and judicial powers and duties as Head of the Judiciary and Head of the Constitutional Court. The transfer of administrative functions and identified staff attached to the Superior Courts from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to the OCJ commenced on 1 October 2014.


  1. On 1 April 2015, the OCJ became a fully-fledged Department with its own Vote. The administration for the Superior Courts, Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI) were transferred to the OCJ, together with the budget and personnel, from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The funds for judges’ salaries were also transferred to the new Vote.



  1. Process followed


  1. On 13October 2020, the Committee engaged with the OCJon its unaudited financial and non-financial performance for the Fourth Quarter of 2019/20and the First Quarter of 2020/21.


  1. Following the tabling of the OCJ’s annual report for 2019/20, the Committee engaged first with the Auditor-General South Africa on the OCJ’s audit outcome for 2019/20 and then with the OCJ on its annual report for 2019/20.Both meetings took place on 17 November 2020.


  1. This Report, therefore, encompasses and reflects on all of these engagements.


  1. Copies of the presentations are available from the committee secretariat.



  1. Strategic overview


  1. Strengthening judicial governance and the rule of law is considered vital to further the transformative promise of our Constitution.The NDP recommends a judiciary-led independent court administration. To strengthen judicial governance, the NDP also identifies the need for a strategy to improve the quality of judges through appointments and the scaling up of judicial training.


  1. The intention when establishing the OCJ as a national department within the public service was that this would be the first phase towards an independent judiciary-led court administration system to realisefully the Judiciary’s institutional independence in line with the Constitution, 1996.


  1. The Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act, 2013, affirms the Chief Justice as head of the Judiciary responsible for establishing and monitoring the norms and standards for the exercise of judicial functions of all courts. The Superior Courts Act, 2013, establishes a legislative framework for the Chief Justice to exercise his/her judicial leadership supported by the OCJ and provides for the delegation of certain functions flowing from the Act to the OCJ.


  1. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development continues to support the administration of the Lower/Magistrate’s courts. Further, until the legislative framework for the Magistrates’ Courts is overhauled to transform these courts in line with the Superior Courts Act, 2013, certain shared services (for example, tools of trade and security services) are provided by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.


  1. The OCJ tabled its Strategic Plan for 2019-2024 and Annual Performance Plan 2020/21 in Parliament on 17 April 2020.As the tabled plans were developed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the OCJ has since reviewed the planning documents to integrate the impact of COVID-19. The revised plans were re-tabled in Parliament on 8 July 2020.


  1. The OCJ contributes to the National Development Plan’s (NDP) call for strengthened judicial governance and the rule of law, and also to ensuring an efficient and effective criminal justice systemby:
  • Accelerating reforms to implement a judiciary-led court administration.
  • Ensuring an efficient court system.
  • Reducing court administration inefficiencies.
  • Ensuring judicial accountability.
  • Providing training to the judiciary though SAJEI.


  1. The MTSF 2019-2024 acknowledges that the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment continue to hold back the achievement of South Africa’s national development. This burden is disproportionately felt by the youth, women and people with disabilities. In order to address these challenges, the MTSF identifies a number of priority areas. Of these, the priorities ‘A capable, ethical and developmental state’ and ‘Social cohesion and safe communities’ are of particular relevance.


  1. In addition, the lack of access to resources and opportunity for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities are identified as cross-cutting, requiring a variety of interventions, including legislative amendments.


  1. Under the priority, ‘A capable, ethical and developmental state’, performance within the public service is acknowledged to be uneven with capacity challenges at all levels of government. The MTSF, therefore, highlights the need for:
  • A capable and honest government.
  • Improved leadership, governance and accountability.
  • Professional, meritocratic and ethical public administration.
  • A social compact and engagement with key stakeholders.
  • The mainstreaming of gender, empowerment of youth and people with disabilities.


  1. The MTSF identifies the need to develop a unified approach between the three arms of State (Legislature, Executive and Judiciary) to fast-track outcomes. In this regard, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is to lead the development of a social compact between the three arms by 2021, which is to be implemented by 2024.


  1. The MTSF identifies the need for a programme to prevent and fight corruption in government, which the Department of Justice leads together with the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation and the Public Service Commission.


  1. Under the priority ‘Social cohesion and safe communities’, the necessity for an effective and modernised criminal justice system is identified. In this regard, the IJS programme is key.


  1. Aligning MTSF priorities to plans, the OCJ will contribute as follows:


Table 1: OCJ planned contribution to achieving MTSF 2019-2024 priorities

MTSF Priority

planned Contribution

A capable, ethical and developmental State

  • Address fraud and corruption.
  • Promote an ethical culture.
  • Integrate Batho Pele principles into the Department’s institutional culture.
  • Adhere to corporate governance principles, such as leadership, strategy and performance, risk and stakeholder management.
  • Improve court operations systems.
  • Modernise court processes and systems.

Economic transformation and job creation

Implement equity programmes targeting employment and empowerment of youth, women, and people with disabilities in both the recruitment and procurement processes.

Social cohesion and safe communities

Ensure access to a safe and secure court environment and improving the integrity of court processes/ outcomes, as well as capacitating/ resourcing the courts in order for them to execute their mandate.


  1. The OCJ has the following broad strategic outcome-orientated goals.
  • Capacitating the Office of the Chief Justice by securing adequate human resources for it to carry out its mandate effectively.
  • Providing administrative support to the Chief Justice in fulfilling his/her functions as Head of the Judiciary.
  • Rendering effective and efficient administration and technical support to the Superior Courts.



  1. Financial performance


  1. The OCJ was allocated an annual budget of R2.3 billion in 2019/20 and is allocated R2.45 billion for 2020/21. Notably, voted funds make up about 51% of the total allocation, while the direct charge for Judges’ salaries comprises almost 49% of the total allocation.


Table 2: Budget allocation for the OCJ per programme 2020 MTEF



Appropriation 2019/20


Average Expenditure/






R ’million

R ’million







Superior Court Services



1 006.5

1 056.4


Judicial Education and Support







1 197.7

1 259.8

1 335.9



Direct Charge:

Judges’ Salaries

1 098.5


1 268.7

1 318.9



2 296.2

2 450.8

2 604.6

2 717.3



  1. Financial performance 2019/20


Table 3: Expenditure 2019/20 per programme



R ’million


Appropriation 2019/20



Actual Expenditure









Superior Court Services




Judicial Education and Support





1 197.7

1 133.9


Direct Charge:

Judges’ Salaries

1 098.5

1 051.7



2 296.2

2 185.6



  1. At programme level, the following is observed:
  • The Administration programme spent R211.0 million against the projected expenditure of R217.4 million, underspending by R6.4 million. The underspending is ascribable to not filling funded vacancies due to natural attrition and underspending on payments for capital assets because of computer equipment not being delivered on time as a result of international manufacturing plants closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • The Superior Court Services programme spent R857.7 million against the projected expenditure of R898.8 million, underspending by R41 million. The underspending was due to a higher than normal rate of natural attrition and savings from the implementation of the unified telecommunication systems and delayed delivery of ICT hardware due to the closing of international manufacturing plants as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • The Judicial Education and Support programme spent R65.1 million against the projected expenditure of R81.4 million, underspending by R16.3 million. The underspending relates to natural attrition and delays in filling of funded vacancies, saving realised on travel and substance as a result of the cancellation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) sitting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, non-payment of legal costs due to pending court dates as well as the inability to upgrade the telecommunication equipment in the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI) boardroom.


  • Judges salaries. The expenditure on the statutory allocation was R1.051 billion against the final allocation of R1.098 billion which resulted in an underspending of R46.821 million. The saving on the Judges’ salaries is due to the non-approval of a salary adjustment for the Judges which was projected for the financial year.


  1. Financial performance First Quarter 2020/21


  1. In the First Quarter of 2020/21, the OCJ spent R489.05 million against projected spending of R550.25 million (or 88.9%) including the direct charge (Judges’ salaries). Overall underspending for the First Quarter was R61 million.
  • The 2020/21 Quarter 1 expenditure of voted funds is 81.8% or R225.695 million against the planned budget of R275.966 million. Underspending of voted funds was R50.3 million.
  • The 2020/21 Quarter 1 expenditure ofthe direct charge was 96.1% or R263.354 million against the allocated budget of R274.288 million. Underspending of the direct charge was R10.9 million.


  1. At programme level, underspending is observed in all three programmes:
  • The Administration programme spent R35.4million against the projected expenditure of R50.2million, underspending by R14.8 million.
  • The Superior Court Services programme spent R184.6 million against the projected expenditure of R213.2 million, underspending by R28.6 million.
  • The Judicial Education and Support programme spent R5.7 million against the projected expenditure of R12.6 million, underspending by R6.9 million.


  1. Theexplanation for the reported deviationsis as follows:
  • Under Administration, the underspending is largely on ‘compensation of employees’ due to delayed implementation of the salary adjustment.
  • Under Superior Court Services, the underspending relates to:
  • Compensation of employees due to delayed implementation of the salary adjustment.
  • Fleet services due to lesser than projected usage of leased judges’ vehicles because of the COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
  • Lesser than projected stationery bought as Superior Courts operate on a skeleton staff and some of the Judges and staff members are working remotely.
  • Fewer than projected travelling by the Judges and officials due to nation-wide lockdown restrictions.
  • Fewer than anticipated officials who resigned.
  • Delayed delivery of the ICT hardware procured in bulk due to COVID-19 restrictions.


  1. Budget pressures


  1. TheOCJ reports that the ‘Compensation of Employees’ budget is to be reduced by:
  • R258.681 million in 2021/22, of which R109.890 million is from the voted funds and R183.478 million is from the direct charges.
  • R350.070 million in 2022/23, of which R148.974 million is from the voted funds and R255.236 million is from the direct charges.


  1. These cuts will have a negative impact on the OCJ in sustaining the currently filled staff establishment.
  • The cut will compel the OCJ not to fill critical posts, which are part of the recently approved macro organizational structure and those which are vacant or become vacant during the MTEF period.
  • The increase granted during the 2020 MTEF process, to capacitate the two courts in the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court has been reversed by the cut. The OCJ has since made these appointments and will no longer be able to afford this expenditure.


  1. Thereductions will also adversely affect the OCJ in terms of its ability to deliver its core mandate, which is to support the Judiciary and Superior Courts, resulting in:
  • Increased case backlogs at Superior Courts (Main Seat; Local Seat & Circuit Courts).
  • Scaled back training for Judicial Officers.
  • Inability to provide sufficient witness administration.
  • Inability to provide sufficient translation services.
  • Inability to provide sufficient transcription services.


  1. Non-financial performance


  1. The overall achievement of planned targets 2019/20 and First Quarter 2020/21 was as follows:


Table 4: OCJ Overall non-financial performance 2019/20 and Quarter 1 2020/21

No. of Targets



First Quarter 2020/21





Not achieved








Percentage achieved





  1. Reported key achievements for 2019/20 are as follows:
  • Unqualified audit outcome with no material findings for the 2018/19 Financial Year.
  • The vacancy rate of 8.9%, which is below the 10% target set by DPSA.
  • The official opening of the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court was part of the Government’s commitment to bring justice closer to the people.
  • Implemented the Combined Assurance Plan in 24 Superior Courts.
  • As part of court modernisation, the Judiciary, supported by the OCJ, piloted CaseLines solution in the Gauteng Division of the High Court.
  • Implementedthe Fraud Prevention Strategy in 24 Superior Courts.
  • Conducted 115 skills-enhancing judicial education courses for Judicial Officers and aspiring Judicial Officers against a target of 80.


  1. Programme performance2019/20 and First Quarter 2020/21


  1. Programme 1: Administration


  1. The purpose of this programme is to provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the Department. The programme consists of the following sub-programmes: 
  • The Management sub-programmeprovides administrative, planning, monitoring, evaluation, performance reporting and risk management functions necessary to ensure effective functioning of the Department. 
  • The Corporate Servicessub-programme provides integrated Human Resources Management (HRM), Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and security management support services to the Department. 
  • The Finance Administration sub-programme provides overall financial, asset and supply chain management services to the Judiciary and the Department.
  • The Internal Audit sub-programme provides overall internal audit and risk management services to the Department and the Superior Courts.
  • The Office Accommodation sub-programme provides foracquisition of office accommodation for the Department.


  1. The Administration programme met seven of 10 or 70% of planned targetsfor 2019/20.


Table 5: Administration: Selected performance 2019/20

Performance Indicator


ICT Master Systems Plan implemented over the MTEF


Prioritised projects (e-filling project) of the ICT Master Systems Plan not rolled-out in 5 Superior Courts (a componentof the e-filing project (CaseLines) was piloted in 1 Superior Court (Gauteng).)

Annual Performance Plan (APP) tabled within prescribed timelines


OCJ Annual Performance Plan (2020/21) not tabled in Parliament before the end of the financial year due to competing priorities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Percentage of internal audit projects completed in line with the approved Annual Audit Plan.

NOT ACHIEVED - 97% (30 of 31)

Compliance audit project was not completed due to COVID–19 lockdown restrictions


  1. In the First Quarter of 2020/21, the OCJ reports that the Administration programme met all 2 or 100% of the 2 plannedtargets for the quarter.


  1. Programme 2: Superior Court Services


  1. This programme provides judicial support and court administration services to the Superior Courts. The programme consists of the following sub-programmes: 
  • The Administration of Superior Courts sub-programme provides administrative and technical support to the Superior Courts, monitors the overall performance of the Superior Courts, and enhances judicial stakeholder relations.  
  • The Constitutional Court sub-programme funds the activities and operations of the Constitutional Court.
  • The Supreme Court of Appeal sub-programme funds the activities and operations of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
  • The High Courts’ sub-programme funds the activities and operations of the various high court divisions.
  • The Specialized Courts sub-programme funds the activities and operations of the labour, land, electoral and competition courts.


  1. The programme achieved three of the six or 50% planned targets for 2019/20:


Table 6: Superior Court Services: Selected performance 2019/20

Performance indicators

Performance 2019/20

Number of monitoring reports on Court Order Integrity Project produced


100% or 4/4

Percentage of default judgements finalised by Registrars



98% against a target of 100%

(47 910 of 49 070)

Percentage of taxations of legal costs finalised each year


99% against a target of 100%


(46 315 of 46 850)


  1. In the First Quarter of 2020/21, under the Superior Courts Services programme, the OCJ reports that it met all six of planned targets for the quarter.


  1. Programme 3: Judicial Education and Support


  1. Judicial Education and Support provides education programmes to Judicial Officers, including policy development and research services for the optimal administration of justice.


  1. The programme has the following sub-programmes: 
  • The South African Judicial Education Institute sub-programme funds the activities of the SAJEI to provide training for Judicial Officers.
  • The Judicial Policy, Research and Support sub-programme funds the provision of advisory opinions on policy development and regulatory services to the Judiciary and the Department.
  • The Judicial Service Commission sub-programme provides secretariat and administrative support services to the Judicial Service Commission to perform its constitutional and legislative mandates effectively.


  1. The programme met all four or 100% of planned targets for 2019/20.


  1. In the First Quarter of 2020/21, the OCJ reports that it met 1 of 2 or 50% of the planned quarterly targets for the programme.



  1. Human resources


  1. At the end of 2019/20, the number of filled posts at the OCJ was 1 866 against an approved establishment of 2047posts. The overall vacancy rate grew from 7.2% in 2018/19 to 8.8% in 2019/20. However, this was still below the 10% target set by Department of Public Service and Administration for the year.


  1. At the end of Quarter 1 of 2020/21, the post establishment reflected 2 115 approved posts, of which 1893 were filled and 222 were vacant and funded. The vacancy rate was at 10.5%, which is higher than the national target of 10%. Of the 2 115 approved posts, 1 893 (89.5%) posts were filled.



  1. Audit outcome


  1. The OCJ received a clean audit opinion for 2019/20 for the third consecutive year. (Since 2015/16, the OCJ has received an unqualified audit opinion and since 2017/18 has achieved a clean audit opinion.)


  1. BRRR 2019 observations


  1. The Committee made the following observations in the 2019 BRRR:
  • The Committee once more expressed its dissatisfaction about the difficulties it has in accessing the information that will allow it to properly measure how well the justice system is working, as much of the information related to court performance is located within the Judiciary. The Committee noted that the South African Judiciary Annual Report 2018/19 is extremely valuable but there are gaps, particularly relating to the performance of the lower courts. The Committee acknowledged that the solution lies partly in the finalisation of the long overdue court administration model and expressed concern at the lack of progress towards finalising the policy.
  • The Committee was given to understand that a Lower Courts Bill was at a very advanced stage.
  • The Committee expressed support for the various initiatives to modernise our courts through court automation. The Committee noted that the e-filing project, which forms part of the ICT Master Systems Plan, could not be piloted in 2018/1 but that the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA), who is the appointed service provider, had since provided the OCJ with a revised project plan. The Committee expressed the intention to arrange a visit to Gauteng to see the CaseLines solution, which forms part of the e-filing project, as soon as the programme permitted.
  • Committee was concerned about reports of inadequate security at courts. As this is a shared function with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, it requested the OCJ to engage with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to provide the Committee with a report relating to the provision of security at courts, including details of funding.
  • The Committee acknowledged the OCJ’s good work in maintaining a clean audit outcome for the second consecutive year.
  • The Committee looked forward to the tabling of the Judicial Services Commission’s report of its activities for 2018/19 in the near future.
  • The Committee noted the Judiciary’s concern about the lack of wellness support offered to judicial officers, many of whom suffer extreme stress as a result of their presiding over traumatising cases. The Committee agreed with the Judiciary that this is a work-related challenge and, therefore, required an institutional response in the form of a judicial wellness or stress management programme. The Committee noted that the Judiciary is developing a programme or system to address this.
  • The Committee agreed with the Judiciary’s view that addressing gender-based violence requires an integrated approach from all key stakeholders.
  1. Committee’s observations


  • The Committee makes the following observations:


  1. Transfer of functions to the OCJ. The Committee notes the lack of progress regarding the finalisation of a court administration model that will see the transfer of functions presently still undertaken by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (such as security services at the courts) to the OCJ.


  1. Court modernisation. The Committee supports the various initiatives to modernise our courts and is given to understand that, as part of the e-filing project, ‘CaseLines’ is being piloted at the High Courts in Gauteng. The Committee will engage with the OCJ to arrange a briefing on the pilot, as soon as the programme permits.


  1. Security. The Committee notes the cybersecurity breach at the OCJ in September 2020. The Committee understands the Secretary-General’s reluctance to provide more detail at that stage as to do so may jeopardise the investigation and expose the OCJ’s systems further. An Internal Audit report, however, listsinadequacies in ICT security and user access management, as well as ICT operational inefficiencies as among the areas of concern and the Audit Committee confirmed that ICT is an area of weakness at the OCJ.


  1. Growing case backlogs. The Committee is extremely concerned by the case backlogs and the threat that these pose to our judicial system. The crisis has highlighted just how inefficient court processes are and the extreme need to modernise and digitise the courts but it is unrealistic to expect that this will be achieved overnight. The Committee notes that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has developed a case backlog plan with the relevant stakeholders and understands that there was a consultation process with the Judiciary in this regard. At this stage, it is not clear to the Committee whether implementation of the plan is progressing well but reports that court hours have declined further suggests otherwise. Unfortunately, future budget cuts that will affect the compensation of employees’ budgets of departments, in particular, are likely to see the case backlogs increase further. This is an area of concern that the Committee would like to engage the Judiciary on when it meets with it.


  1. Budget reductions. The Committee notes the budget reductions that are proposed and is concerned that these reductions will contribute to the growing case backlogs in our courts. The OCJ has indicated that its compensation of employees’ budget will be seriously affected by the proposed budget reductions and, among others, this will mean that it will not be able to fill posts. The reductions will not only contribute to further case backlogs but will compromise the OCJ’s ability to provide support to the OCJ.


  1. Youth employment and the employment of persons with disabilities. The Committee welcomes the OCJ’s commitment to youth employment (it has actively pursued the recruitment of youth and is well ahead of government’s target of 30%). However, the OCJ is faring less well when it comes to employing persons with disabilities. The Committee is pleased to learn that the OCJ intends entering into beneficial partnerships to attract more staff from this category of people and will monitor progress in this regard.


  1. Audit outcome. The Committee commends the OCJ on maintaining its clean audit opinion, noting the Auditor-General and Audit Committee’s comments on the high standard of governance at the OCJ. The Audit Committee identified ICT and human resources as being two areas of weakness but also that there are strong risk management processes in place.


  1. Judicial Services Commission report.The Committee notes the tabling of the Judicial Services Commission’s report of its activities for 2018/19.



  1. Appreciation


  1. The Committee thanks the Minister and Deputy Minister, the Secretary-General and the staff of the OCJ for their assistance in this process.


  1. The Committee also wishes to thank the Auditor General South Africa for the support it provided to the Committee.


Report to be considered


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