Magistrate strike regrettable - Chief Justice

2013-03-16 19:00

Johannesburg - Impending strike action from Magistrates country-wide is regrettable, the office of the Chief Justice said on Saturday.

The office said the Chief Justice was not in a position to comment on the strike as it had yet to be finalised by the court.

"The office of the Chief Justice wishes to place on record that should the strike action materialise, it would be regrettable and that Magistrates would jeopardise the welfare of the very people to whom they are obliged by the Constitution to render a service," spokesperson Lulama Luti said.

Magistrates are demanding a single pay structure for the judiciary: one that would have their salaries and benefits put on the same sliding scale as those of judges. This could see their salaries increase by almost 100%.

The magistracy is at odds with the commission and the president on the issue, and has been trying to force a review of the commission's allocations for the past two years, on the basis that it was not properly consulted.

Luti said there were official channels where such issues could be attended to.

  • Donovan Vorster - 2013-03-16 19:15


  • Vernon Samuel - 2013-03-16 19:33

    I use a busy intersection off the M1 in Johannesburg everyday. I follow a long line of cars waiting their turn to get to the off-ramp. While we are waiting, dozens of cars pass us and illegally cross the solid barrier line to reach the off-ramp before us. Those drivers who cut the queue get to work early while the rest of us fools sit in traffic and get to work late. I use this analogy to show how magistrates probably feel. They follow the legal channels and remain ignored and presumably under-paid. All around them people are embarking on illegal strikes and resorting to violence and crime to ensure that they are heard. And yet not one of the violent strikers has yet been prosecuted. Sadly the country has allowed the precedent to be set so expect many more sectors to follow suit.

      arthur.salvado - 2013-03-17 07:22

      To strike seems the only way the government listens. Sad is the fact that peaceful strikes achieve little and hence the violence we see. The government needs to do its work otherwise stickies will become a way of life in SA (if not already)

  • Phele Mokone Pelezinoh - 2013-03-16 19:51

    Strike because its the only language the ANC government understand much better this days

  • SharonE - 2013-03-16 20:02

    Surely the service they perform can be classed as essential? The judiciary is in such a mess as it is, with cases postponed ad infinitum - and now these aim to make it even worse!

      heinrich.etsebeth - 2013-03-17 09:56

      You have no idea why cases are being postponed. So get off your high horse and get your facts straight.

  • Osama Bin Pascal - 2013-03-16 20:05

    Fire all those magistrate who engage in strike if it is illigal. We can not afford to have thugs on the bench.

      Winsie Mangombe - 2013-03-16 22:16

      U right...

      heinrich.etsebeth - 2013-03-17 09:57

      Ok so fire everyone that took part in the mining strikes. We can't have thugs as employees. Remember what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Peter Zylstra - 2013-03-16 20:19

    Why all the fuss? Strikes are black S African's way of protesting!

      arthur.salvado - 2013-03-17 07:23

      Blacks are the only ones keeping this government in check.

  • jungleboy - 2013-03-16 20:45

    Massive ANC fail. Yet another credit downgrade on the way. This is a world first.

  • Refiloe Thelma Shikwambana - 2013-03-16 21:01

    Nothing new,even babies go on strike in ths country

      Winsie Mangombe - 2013-03-16 22:17

      Va hi poyila ngopfu... Ku vulavula swa tsandza...

  • Sipho Mnguni - 2013-03-16 21:39

    Office of the Chief Justice, give them what is due to them and stop playing with the emotions of those who are ignorant of what the magistrates' job entails. I am not a magistrate but I work with them and I have grown closer to some. Those poor souls are overworked and underpaid. Even if it's 300% increase so be it.

  • BraSteve Myaluze - 2013-03-16 21:41

    Let's use kangaroo courts while they are on strike. No postponements there, cases are finalised on day one. Could clear the backlog

  • Malose Matsaung - 2013-03-16 22:44

    Its about time the president and the chief justice take magistrates seriously. They also work hard and esp. On criminal cases.they indeed work hard to avoid backloggs and others.

  • Paul Axel Hansen Hjul - 2013-03-16 23:20

    To strike would be a violation of office and the demand is irrational and unreasonable. If the Minister has any conviction he will move a complaint to the magistrate's commission against any magistrate who goes on strike. The total remuneration for a magistrate by the State is over 600k a year Improve the actual working conditions of magistrates by fixing the operations of the lower courts rather than by telling magistrates that they will be remunerated on the same basis as High Court judges.

      heinrich.etsebeth - 2013-03-17 10:05

      Paul, those salaries are deserved not demanded. All they are asking for is to get the same % increase as the higher judges. How can you justify to give one section in a company a 6% increase and the other a 20%. that even after you had to take your employer to court the previous year just to get them to give you an inflation based increase. An increase which was due them, ordered upon by the high court but never acted upon by the state. Those figures in that pdf you linked is what it was supposed to be according to the court order. It was announced but never implemented. So I ask you again.... who is really at fault here.

  • andrejvv - 2013-03-17 07:58

    They don't belong there with that mentality, that said, you should be ashamed of the salary increase!

  • andrejvv - 2013-03-17 07:59


  • andrejvv - 2013-03-17 08:01

    For sure...

  • Wally - 2013-03-17 17:50

    Interesting...there are channels to follow! How long have Magistrates tried to follow these channels without ANYONE willing to take a stand? What did it bring them? Nothing!! Stop looking at what Magistrates are earning and start comparing the TOTAL packages of Magistates with that of their High Court "Brethren". Look at what happened to this situation in 2006/7 and that Magistrates were locked out of the review process although recommended. Heinrich, Sipho and Malose seem to have the facts right and sum the situation up correctly. The Chief Justice and the Minister as well as the President and the Independant Remuneration Commission have to carry the blame for what is taking place. No Magistrate is asking to receive the same salary as a Judge of the High Court, but on a sliding scale the same structure and benefits. When the Chief Justice and a Judge's salaries are quoted plz remember it refers only to the salary and their own contr's to m/aid and Salaries-for-Life -incl all benefits after retirement - and not big time benefits that Magistrates do not share in. A Magistrates "salary" as quoted refers to a total cost to employer package. From this the Magistrate pays 100% the contribution of the EMPLYER towards his/her pension and m/aid, as well as his/her own contributions; 13th cheque. Magistrates do not qualify for the rebate ito the Revenue Act as Judges do and specifically proclaimed by the President excluding Magistrates who are also Public Off Bearers.

  • Wally - 2013-03-17 18:03

    OK. Working conditions...Magistrates are legally qualified and perform a very responsible task. Yet, to the Judges and some segments of the legal profession there is a determined drive not to acknowledge the Magistracy as part of the Judiciary. So much for a Single Judiciary. There is NO JUDGE that will work under the conditions some of these ppl have to endure. They snap their fingers and the wheels start rolling. Magistrates beg and plead and are expected to grovel. That fair regarding their position and with no one willing to act? Magistrates are blamed for you even know what is happening behind the scenes and why these postponements are made? Are you aware that a Magistrate have to ensure that your rights are protected to the last "T" or be crucified on review or appeal? Are you aware of the problems within the system regarding support services lacking? Magistrates do no longer keep themselves busy with petty cases as was the case perhaps a number of decades ago - DECADES - and apply the same law and principles as the High Court. Yes, someone has to see to the traffic cases and other less serious matters too. All of them play a huge roll in having justice dispensed with. Perfect? Oh no...not by a long shot. Are there mistakes? For me a man who does not work and I show you a man who does not make a mistake. Are they thugs? Plz, show respect! They are frustrated beyond measure. The Chief Justice is to be "their father" but sadly...

  • Wally - 2013-03-17 18:40

    Are you aware that the Amendment to the Constitution initially included the term Judge of the Lower Court but was removed due to pressure from the High Court Judges? What a slap in the face! Regardless of any sound argument this was passed through parliament without recognition to Magistrates per the Constitution. No matter what steps have been taken, we still have a system where Advocates refuse to robe in the Lower Courts as they deem it inferior to their status. Have you given any thought on how this impact on the morale and integrity of the Lower Courts? Plz remember that the conditions in a District Court on a daily basis is a world apart from a High Court. Yet, are you aware that we have had matters in the High Court that dragged on for years to complete; where accused and witnesses alike have deceased while awaiting finalisation of the matters - due to illness, old age or other factors. I am not trying to break the High Court down...but plz start to have and show some insight into what is happening on ground level. If you have no knowledge thereof...either research or be mindful of what is being said. May justice be seen to be done unto these ppl who play such an important role within our society although it may not be recognised as such at present. May the personal vendetta's and arrogance make place for true humility and a real drive towards an accessible and single judiciary and justice system.

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