Only R24m has been spent on repairs and the refurbishment of aged and dilapidated courts in the first quarter of 2019, out of a budget allocation of R750m, and this worries Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille.
In a speech delivered in Pretoria on Tuesday, De Lille said more was needed to be done to repair and refurbish courts around the country.
"The total budget for repairs and the refurbishment for justice [is] R260m, of which R229m has been allocated to repair and refurbish 105 courts.
"But what worries me is that the department has only spent R24m in the first quarter of this year.
"That is just around 10% when the figure should be more than 25%. We must work harder and faster because the lives of our citizens are at stake."
De Lille added the department had also allocated R531m for repairs and refurbishments from its own budget.
She said it was common for citizens to conduct their day-to-day business in dilapidated, outdated and rundown government buildings, which was their first impression of the government.
"So, we need to ensure and make these public spaces a pleasant, comfortable experience with conducive conditions. Our courts are but one aspect. So this is where we'll start."
De Lille gave some examples of dilapidated courts, saying court buildings in Mpumalanga had deteriorated to such an extent that they were a danger to people working there.
"These buildings are the face of the government and it's simply not good enough to say there are no funds to deal with the issues. We do have the money. We must learn to spend properly. Lack of capacity has become an excuse for inefficiency.
"We must do everything in [our] power to ensure the issue of shoddy court buildings is addressed as speedily as possible."
De Lille was speaking at a joint meeting between the departments of public works and justice in Pretoria.
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