Zuma signs new court bill

By Drum Digital
13 August 2013

President Jacob Zuma has signed into law a bill that aims to promote access to justice, the presidency said on Tuesday.

Rigorous and urgent steps were needed to ensure that justice did not remain the privilege of the rich, but was a fundamental human right enjoyed by all, Zuma said in a statement.

"The Superior Courts Act is a step in this direction."

The act provided for the re-organisation and rationalisation of high courts and their jurisdictional areas.

Currently, superior courts were structured in accordance with the Supreme Court Act.

With the implementation of the new act, the current 13 high courts, which included high courts inherited from the former self-governing apartheid homelands, would be rationalised into a single high court with a functional division of the court established in each province.

"The communities who live in the now Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces have endured the hardship of accessing the High Court in North Gauteng and the High Court in Pretoria since the formation of the Union of South Africa, for a period of more than a century," Zuma said.

"Legally they can now have the benefit of having their own division of the high court right at their doorstep. This will happen as soon as the construction of the two high court divisions in Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces has been completed."

The construction of the Limpopo seat of the high court would be completed by June 2014, while the construction of the Mpumalanga seat was expected to start before the end of this year, Zuma said.

The act would also place magistrates in every division of the high court under the control of the judge president of the division concerned.

-SAPA

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