Surprise visitor at PMB courts

2014-01-17 00:00

DEPUTY Justice and Constitutional Development Minister John Jeffery paid a surprise early visit to the Pietermaritzburg courts yesterday to check whether they started on time.

And he was generally pleased with the work ethic he found there.

Jeffery said he made the surprise visit to see how the courts generally work. “I wanted to get a realistic picture … There are small problems but I was generally pleased with how the courts and the staff there were operating.”

He turned up at the Pietermaritzburg courts as they opened and visited the high court and then the magistrate’s court, visiting some court rooms before holding a lengthy meeting with the courts’ senior management.

He said although he was happy with the courts’ functioning, he was disappointed to find that at least five courts had not sat because they were missing some key components.

Three courts were missing magistrates and one was missing a prosecutor from Durban; in another they were missing a legal aid attorney.

Another disappointment was finding out that some of the court units that were supposed to move to the old renovated court building had not yet done so, something he said he would follow up.

He said he was baffled by the issue of backlogs as there were backlog courts that had been created specifically to deal with the problem.

Jeffery said the department was putting other measures in place to improve the delivery of justice, and said they were looking to appoint new magistrates but was unsure how many were earmarked for Pietermaritzburg.

He said the senior management at the court had requested an official follow-up meeting as they had concerns they needed addressed.

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