13. Justice & Constitutional Development

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1 P A R L I A M E N T O F T H E R E P U B L I C O F S O U T H A F R I C A

2 13. Justice & Constitutional Development Justice and Constitutional Development and the 2006 State of the Nation Address The 2006 State of the Nation Address marks a shift from the Justice priorities outlined in the 2004 and 2005 Addresses. Whilst not providing any progress on achievements with regard to priorities so outlined, the President once again committed Government to continue placing its focus on addressing the critical challenge of improving the criminal justice system in This will be done, amongst others, by meeting the following key objectives: Further improving case-load management in the courts. Intensifying the fight against corruption in the public sector and in society at large. Considering the comments of the Khampepe Commission on the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO). 1 Processing legislation on matters relating to the rationalisation of courts. Managing post-truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) cases relating to conflicts of the past. Accelerating infrastructure investment in the underdeveloped urban and rural areas of the country to provide more courts. Implementing social crime prevention measures. Impact on Justice and Constitutional Development The key objectives outlined by the President give rise to specific tasks that will have to be performed by the Department in These include: Combating corruption The primary legislation that has been promulgated to fight corruption is the Prevention of Corruption and Corrupt Activities Act (Act 12 of 2004). However, the provisions of this Act are very complicated, hence training is required for service providers, as well as the Department s clients to enable them to access the legal protection provided by the Act. The challenge for the Department is to accelerate the finalisation and distribution of the Guideline Booklet on the Prevention of Corruption and Corrupt Activities Act. Furthermore, the Department needs to ensure that coordination between the agencies responsible for dealing with matters of corruption is improved. Finally, ordinary citizens of South Africa need to be educated about the anti-corruption measures that have been developed, such as the National Anti-Corruption Hotline. Case-load management The Department will have to accelerate the roll out of Integrated Case Flow Management Centres by procuring the Case Roll Management System in the 2006/07 financial year if it is to meet the objective of improving the management of case loads. Managing post-truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) cases The Department will have to finalise all outstanding reparations to victims of human rights violations, deal with Justice & Constitutional Development STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

3 perpetrators who were refused amnesty or who did not apply for amnesty, and trace persons that went missing as victims of human rights violations. Providing more courts If the Department builds more courts it will also have to appoint more properly trained magistrates and administrative court staff, whilst the National Prosecuting Authority will have to appoint more properly trained Prosecutors. These activities will have to be factored into the Department s budget for 2006/07. Khampepe Commission The National Prosecuting Authority will have to prepare itself to implement the outcomes of the Khampepe Commission process. If a decision is taken to integrate the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) with the South African Police Service, this will have implications for the staff complement, as well as for the budgetary implications Sexual Offences Courts The Department will have to accelerate the roll out of blueprint compliant Sexual Offences Courts. Implications for Parliament for 2006 Parliament should monitor the further rollout of the case flow management system in the 2006/ 07 financial year, with particular reference to: Specific timeframes for the rollout of the system in the next financial year. The allocation of sufficient funds in the 2006/ 07 budget for this purpose. The establishment of Provincial Monitoring Committees to deal with challenges related to local or area level and the successes of these Committees. Parliament should utilise the 2006/07 budget process to engage the Department on the following issues: Whether the Department has succeeded in establishing the additional 20 Sexual Offences Courts in the past financial year as planned. If so, where these courts are located and if not, how the funds allocated for this purpose were used. Also, the Department should inform Parliament of its envisaged date for completion of this project. What the relevant time-frames are for making the outstanding courts compliant with the minimum requirements in the Blueprint for Sexual Offences Courts if nothing had been done in the past financial year? How has the fact that half the sexual offences courts do not meet the minimum requirements in the Blueprint for Sexual Offence Courts impacted on the conviction rates in these courts? The transformation of the Justice College to an independent Judicial Education faculty has major implications for the independence of the Judiciary. Such independence is essential to maintaining public confidence in the justice system. Parliament should thus intensify its oversight role by monitoring the pace of transformation in the justice system generally, and, in particular, transformation of the Justice College to an independent faculty. Parliament should also on an ongoing basis monitor the syllabi of Justice College, with a view to ensuring that judicial officers and prosecuting staff graduating from the Institution are well equipped to deal with the challenges posed by the justice system. Parliament should accelerate the passing of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences Bill [B STRATEGIC IMPERATIVES FOR SOUTH AFRICA

4 2003] and the Superior Courts Bill [B ], which deal with the rationalisation of courts. Parliament should also use its oversight function to ensure that the Bills are costed and that the relevant implementing agencies have sufficient funds to implement these Bills. Parliament should use its monitoring function to maintain a close watch on developments with regard to the Khampepe Commission, with the purpose of ensuring that the 2006/07 budget can accommodate any structural changes proposed by the Commission. Progress on issues raised in the 2005 State of the Nation Address During the 2005 State of the Nation Address, the President committed Government to reaching a number of targets in relation to the Justice sector. He stated that Government would, amongst others: Speed up the setting up of community courts, with the aim of having at least 2 community courts per province. Give life to the Victim s Charter by re-orientating the implementing personnel, raising awareness among citizens and passing legislation to regulate this service where applicable. Improve the monitoring of case-loads in order to reduce case cycle times. Improve the performance of justice officers through the revitalisation of the Justice College. Operationalise more sexual offences courts, as the conviction rate in these courts (62%) are much higher than in ordinary courts (42%). The President did not address Parliament on any progress made in meeting the targets outlined above during his 2006 Address. Thus, progress reported in this section is extrapolated from the Department s Budget Vote for 2005/06, its Annual Reports for 2003/04 and 2004/05, as well as Government s Programme of Action for 2005 as follows: Improve the monitoring of caseloads in order to reduce case cycle times Whilst the Department reports progress in the management of caseloads, the President once again committed Government to further improving the management of caseloads in the courts. Progress reported in this regard includes: Integrated case flow management centres are operational at 46 district criminal courts. The roll-out of this project is subject to the procurement of the case roll management system in the 2006/07 financial year. The system tracks cases and measures the performance of courts where case flow management centres have been set up. Statistics provided by the Department indicate that this system has impacted positively on courts performance where it has been implemented. Seven thousand copies of the Guidelines on Case Flow Management have been printed and distributed to all judicial and prosecutorial officials, as well as to Registrars and Clerks of the court. A Case Flow Management workshop was held in September Justice & Constitutional Development STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

5 A performance management template has been implemented in terms of which court officials are assisted to use court information to assess court performance and institute improvements where necessary. An e-scheduler software system has been developed to assist in the management of cases throughout the court system. The implementation of case flow management is being monitored, and Provincial Monitoring Committees will be set up to deal with challenges related to local or area level. Give life to the Victim s Charter by re-orientating the implementing personnel, raising awareness among citizens and passing legislation to regulate this service where applicable The Department reports that this is an ongoing objective in terms of which the following progress has been achieved: The Department has started with the training of trainers and justice officials. As at 1 February 2006, trainers and justice officials had been trained on the Victims Charter. It is difficult to assess whether the Department has made real progress in the provision of training on the Victim s Charter, as no information is provided on the total amount of trainers and justice officials that have to be trained. Training on the Victims Charter has been integrated into the Justice College training schedule. The National Prosecuting Authority has 66 courts where contract officials are appointed to assist witnesses. As at 1 February 2006, witnesses have been prepared by these officials to testify at various courts. Operationalise more Sexual Offences Courts The reporting format in the Government s Programme of Action is not consistent with the objective as outlined in the President s 2005 Address. Instead of reporting on the additional number of Sexual Offences Courts established, it merely reports on the amount of courts in session by October 2005 (i.e ), the total amount of cases finalised and the improved conviction rate in these courts (i.e. 88%). This complicates an analysis of whether or not this objective has been met. However, in its 2005/06 Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE), the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development reported that 20 additional sexual offences courts would be established in the 2005/06 financial year. The Department also reported that more than half of the sexual offences courts that have been established do not meet the minimum blueprint requirements. The Department further reports in its Annual Report that a Sexual Offences Courts Strategy and a Blueprint are in place to establish dedicated Sexual Offences Courts in a holistic and dedicated manner. Also, a National Project Oversight Committee, supported by an Operational Committee, has been established with the aim of reducing secondary victimisation, ensuring that victims or survivors of sexual offences are handled humanely and with dignity, and ensuring that all relevant service providers address their needs in a responsive manner. 102 STRATEGIC IMPERATIVES FOR SOUTH AFRICA

6 Speed up the setting up of community courts, with the aim of having at least two community courts per province It appears from Government s Programme of Action that the Department has managed to establish fifteen Community Courts. This constitutes a shortfall of at least three Community Courts, as the President stated in his 2005 Address that the aim was to establish two Community Courts per province (i.e. eighteen courts). The Programme of Action also indicates that the roll-out of Community Courts will be completed by March Improve the performance of justice officers through the revitalisation of the Justice College The Department reports in its 2003/04 Annual Report that the Justice College has embarked on an Impact Assessment Project, a Tutor Training Project and a Magistrate s Mentoring Programme to try and increase the effectiveness of the Justice College in its training mission, as well as the effectiveness of judicial officers and Prosecutors. The Department has received in principle approval for the restructuring of the Justice College to an independent Judicial Education faculty, headed by the Judiciary. 1 Commission of Inquiry into the Mandate and Location of the Directorate of Special Operations. STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

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