Court services to continue uninterrupted

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pretoria – Measures have been put in place to ensure that court services continue uninterrupted in all magistrates' courts, says the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

This comes as more than 70 percent of magistrates in the country embark on a nationwide strike from today in a bid to get more pay.

The department said judicial heads of the courts and court managers will be on hand to assist with inquiries or concerns related to non-delivery of services at any affected court.

The majority of the magistrates in the country belong to the Judicial Officers Association of South Africa (JOASA), and they say they will stay away from work until their demands are met.

JOASA has also announced that their strike will be escalated from Monday, 25 March if their demands regarding their remuneration are not addressed.

According to the Justice and Constitutional Development Department’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga, the department will continue to engage with JOASA to find an amicable solution.

In the meantime, the department, in conjunction with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), is putting extra-ordinary measures to ensure that the salary adjustments of 5.5 percent -- as approved by Parliament for the 1 912 magistrates -- is implemented no later than 15 April 2013 and backdated to 1 April 2012.

Regional court presidents, chief magistrates and other heads of the magistracy assisted by court managers, will monitor the courts and will make the necessary arrangements for acting appointments where necessary, to improve capacity.

“It should be noted that the employment conditions of magistrates are not governed by the Labour Relations Act and therefore any illegal industrial action is unlawful,” Mhaga said.

“The ministry wishes to apologise for any inconvenience that may occur and requests communities, parties and litigants who require justice-related services from the magistrates’ courts to be patient where they experience delays or confusion.” 

Mhaga said attempts will be made to restore normal services as soon as it is practically possible where such delays may occur. –