Superior court functions transferred

2014-09-30 20:04
Justice Minister Michael Masutha (Stefan Heunis, AFP)

Justice Minister Michael Masutha (Stefan Heunis, AFP)

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Cape Town - Staff and administrative functions attached to the country's superior courts will be transferred to the office of the chief justice, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said on Tuesday.

In a statement he said the various transfers from his department would commence on Wednesday.

"The government appreciates that the independence of the courts and the rule of law can only thrive in a constitutional setting where there is clear separation of powers with appropriate checks and balances."

The office of the chief justice, currently headed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, was established by President Jacob Zuma in 2010 as a national department under the Public Service Act.

In August, Parliament passed the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act which affirmed that Mogoeng was responsible for judicial functions performed by judicial officers of all courts, including magistrates.

At this stage, all other administrative management functions of the lower courts remained the responsibility of the justice department.

Masutha said senior managers were meeting staff at different courts in preparation of the transition on Wednesday.

A total of 1 486 staff would be transferred, with no changes in their conditions of service.

"For the current year we will transfer pro rata a sum of R1.4bn, which is total budget for a year. Plans for the office to get its separate vote in the 2015/16 financial year are on track."

Masutha said there was debate regarding the "end-state" of institutional reforms, which was the need to establish a separate, autonomous judicial administration model.

Two weeks ago, Cabinet approved that Masutha commission a concept paper to facilitate "broad public discourse" regarding the "end-state".

"The judiciary, through the chief justice, have expressed their preference regarding the end-state and this will be taken into consideration in the course of developing the required concept document."

He said the process would take between two and three years, in light of the need for research and public consultation.

Read more on:    michael masutha  |  cape town  |  judiciary  |  parliament 2014

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