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Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Honourable, Ronald Lamola, MP, Budget Vote Speech for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development 2022 / 23 Delivered Virtually on 17 May 2022

Honourable House Chair,
Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development Honourable, John Jeffery MP
Deputy Minister for Correctional Services Honourable, inkosi Patekile Holomisa MP
Ministers and Deputy Ministers present on the platform
Honourable Bulelani Magwanishe Portfolio Committee Chairperson
Honourable Members
Director General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development Advocate Mashabane.
Distinguished Guests
Ladies & Gentlemen
On the 18th May 2020, I stood before our portfolio committee on Justice and Correctional Services to give a portfolio overview of our strategic plans 2020 – 2025 as well as the annual performance plan for the financial year 2020/ 21.

At the time we were all reeling from the devastating impact on COVID-19 , and I said “
When we conceptualized these plans, our priorities sought to invoke a paradigm shift in our country. A shift to rebuild the capacity of the state, rebuild our ability to fight corruption, restore investor confidence, recalibrate the economy and create much needed jobs.
But as the African proverb goes "Ikamva alaziwa" ("no one knows what tomorrow brings"), we are now required to implement these Plans on the back of a COVID-19 pandemic amid a recessionary economic climate.

Little did we know at the time, that we would be presented with a hugely challenging year, whilst responding to the unprecedented pressures of the global pandemic, we also had to contend with the dilapidating ransomware attack.
On the balance these major challenges have been overcome. 

Honourable Members, I would like to take this opportunity from the onset to condemn racists incidents that continue to raise their ugly heads in some of our high schools in the country and the recent one at the University of Stellenbosch. The University must leave no stone unturned in investigating the incident, all of us must send a clear an unambiguous message that that there is no space for racism in our country. Parents must teach their kids love and diversity and not racism.

 

Recalibrating the Economy
House Chair
At end of the fourth quarter 2021 statistics, South Africa reported an increase in our real gross domestic product, which took our annual growth rate in the last financial year to 4,9 per cent.
I mention this because the budget allocation of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for the financial year 2022/23 amounts to ( twenty two billion point four )  R 22.4 billion, this is an increase of approximately  (Five hundred and fifteen million)R515 million .

This is equivalent to a real-terms 2 per cent growth rate per year on average over the spending review period.
This administration has taken a clear step to reinvest in the justice system.

The allocation will help accelerate the extensive work already underway to recover from the unprecedented impact of the pandemic, while delivering a more efficient and modern justice system.

The budget is inclusive of the allocation for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and transfers to the two constitutional bodies, namely the Public Protector 1 and the South African Human Rights Commission 2.

The budget allocation also provides funding for the Information Regulator 3 as well as transfers to the Legal Aid South Africa, the Special Investigating Unit and a direct  charge to the National Revenue Fund in respect of Magistrates salaries. This budget enables the department and its entities to execute their respective constitutional and statutory mandates.


Legal Aid South Africa budget allocation
Honourable Members, Legal Aid South has over the years rendered legal services to many South Africans who are unable to afford legal costs thereby ensuring that the right of accused persons enshrined in section 35(3) of the Constitution, in particular, becomes a reality.  During this financial year Legal Aid South Africa is allocated R2 Billion. Legal Aid South Africa is one of the few entities in government which distinguishable honour of being recognised amongst the Top Employers in South Africa for the 13th consecutive year.

 

Legal Aid South Africa Increases Threshold for Means Test
To increase its reach in a society where the cost of legal representation is expensive. Legal Aid South Africa has increased the threshold for its means test.
The thresholds for means-tested legal aid have increased. As a result, access to justice can be expanded to those who cannot afford it.

In addition, the Means Test as in Extension of Security of Tenure Act, for eviction matters is set at R13,625.00 as legislated in the ESTA Act.


Legal Aid South Africa Positioned To Address Land Justice:
The Legal Aid SA Land Rights Management Unit (LRMU) has been operational since the 5th of January 2022 and is currently managed by the Legal Aid SA National Office. The Legal Executive: Land Rights Management is responsible for overseeing and monitoring the performance of the LRMU and new vacancies have been filled in line with an interim organisational structure for the Unit.
Most legal practitioners who were previously providing legal representation to farm occupiers, labour tenants and restitution claimants through the LRMU have been accredited with Legal Aid SA on the Judicare system and continue to provide legal services as required. Internal capabilities to deal with the newly created LMRU's financial and file management systems have been developed.
This development enables Legal Aid SA to contribute to South Africa's land justice programme and ensure access to justice i.e. realise the right of a person to have legal representation as envisaged in the Constitution and provide legal aid and legal advice.

 

Building Institutions Which Enforce Accountability For Crime and Maladministration
National Prosecuting Authority “NPA” Budget Allocation

NPA has been allocated ( four, point nine billion rand) R4, 910 billion which is increase of (three seventy four million) R 374 million. Last year we had set aside ( one hundred and six million) R 106, 4 million for the Investigating Directorate this year’s allocation for the NPA has increased by (one hundred and thirty seven million) R 137,2 Million to ( two hundred and forty three million) R 243, 6 million in this financial year.

In the 2022/23 period we will continue to a focus on restoring the NPA’s credibility through addressing corruption.
Despite the continuous performance inhibiting challenges hampering optimal performance attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPA continued to improve organisational performance, compared to the previous two financial years.

In ensuring that the NPA delivers quality prosecutions, high conviction rates were maintained in all court forums. Conviction rates of 91,1% in the high courts, 80,8% in the regional courts and 94% in the district courts were recorded in the current financial year. Some progress has been made in improving case finalisation.

Leveraging on the Fusion Centre, the NPA has been crucial in addressing corruption relating to the COVID-19 funds. A total of 232 matters have been registered with the Fusion Centre. 173 matters are under investigation and 59 have been closed.
A total of 244 cases were registered with 140 under investigation, 54 closed and 61 cases have been placed on court rolls with 126 accused persons.

The Asset Forfeiture Unit "AFU" continues to play a critical part in addressing the scourge of corruption and has delivered significant returns in the past year. The AFU obtained freezing orders to the value of (five point 4 billion rand ) R5.46 billion  in corruption or related offences. At the end of the financial year, ( seventy million) R70.1 million was paid into the Criminal Assets Recovery Amount and  ( two hundred and ten million)R210.8 million was paid to the victims of crime.


Special Investigation Unit “SIU” Allocation
This year the SIU marks its 25th Anniversary with an allocation of  ( Four Hundred and Fifty Two Million)R 452 Million. In the last financial year, the SIU has achieved significant recoveries through combining quality investigations with civil litigation. Between 2013 and 2021, the SIU has recovered public money and assets amounting to R2.6 billion, set aside contracts to the value of R18 billion and as of 26 March 2022 referred matters worth R75.1 billion for civil litigation in the High Court and the Special Tribunal for civil litigation.
The establishment of the Special Tribunal in 2019 has expedited the work of the SIU. The Tribunal has adjudicated cases referred to it by the SIU amounting to R8.6 billion in unlawful contracts.
One of the cases that were finalised includes the Beitbridge border fence contract worth more than R40 million. The tender was irregular and set aside, and contractors were ordered to pay back the money received.
The SIU had enrolled 119 cases worth more than R12.8 billion at the Special Tribunal. Out of the 119 cases, 48 cases worth R2.2 billion are related to the COVID-19 procurement corruption and maladministration.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Judge Lebogang Modiba as the President of the Special Tribunal and added Judges Soma Naidoo and Johannes Daffue, both of the Free State Division of the High Court, as members of the Tribunal.
I would like to congratulate Judge Modiba on her new appointment as President of the Tribunal and thank former president, Judge Mlindelwa Makhanya, who has retired, for the meaningful role he played since its establishment. He led the Special Tribunal with distinction and we wish him well in his retirement.


Systemically addressing the roots of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide
Gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) remain a pervasive challenge in South Africa. Following Presidential directives, the courts continued to put special emphasis on convictions in sexual offences cases. The high conviction rate of 74,4% for sexual offences cases demonstrates the success of this focus. The NPA participates extensively in the implementation (in terms of Pillar 3) of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) as facilitated by the Department of Women. However, more needs to be done to address this scourge.
The Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) model aims to provide a more effective and victim-centric approach to reporting sexual offences. During the financial year, the NPA increased the number of operational TCCs from 55 to 60.

The fight against violent crime, particularly rape, has recently been undermined by the challenges around the management of forensic DNA due to shortages of essential chemicals required for DNA analysis. It resulted in a national backlog of these cases being prosecuted in courts. As part of our interventions, the NPA established a partnership with the South African Police Service's (SAPS) Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) to reduce the backlog in DNA processing. The NPA is capturing these reports and/or priority requests for DNA (from the Divisions) as received from FSL and compiles a monthly consolidation report. The improved coordination between the NPA and FSL has assisted in reducing the backlog extensively.

GBVF is entrenched by patriarchal social norms and belief systems, gender disparity, socio-economic inequality, family dysfunctions, the low social value attached to women and girls, and the lack of accountability at all levels of responsibility.  If men, in particular, do not take personal accountability, GBVF will continue to traumatise our society unhindered. For this reason, articles 1 and 2 of the Presidential Summit Declaration against Gender-based Violence and Femicide of 2019 unequivocally holds every person living in South Africa accountable for actions and omissions that are contrary to the realisation of a South Africa free from this kind of violence.

In support of the aspirations of the Summit Declaration and the National Strategic Plan, and particularly in response to the demands of our women who took to the streets in 2018 against the scourge of GBVF, I introduced the GBV Bills in August 2020, which the President recently assented into law on 28 January 2022.

The three Gender-Based Violence Amendment Acts do not only ground the principle of a victim-centric justice system but also inculcate the spirit of accountability by all for all.

For example, the Domestic Violence Amendment Act of 2021 criminalises bystanders by adults in domestic violence matters perpetrated or suspected to be perpetrated against children, persons with disabilities or older persons.

Section 54 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act No 32 of 2007 criminalises and punishes the failure to report knowledge of a sex crime against a child or person with a mental disability. With these laws in place, we should not have any surge in cases of child abuse, statutory rape and even child pregnancies.

In continuing with our commitment to provide a victim-centric court system, in the 2022/ 23 financial year, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will upgrade additional disability centric courts above the 75 courts introduced in the previous financial year.
With these courts, the Department is progressively building a court system that observes the reasonable accommodations for court users with disabilities to ensure the equal enjoyment of the right to equal protection and benefit of the law and fundamental freedoms by all.
This support is also extended to older persons. One of the three GBV laws, the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Act No 12 of 2021, extends the provision of intermediary services to older witnesses and civil proceedings.

The Domestic Violence Amendment Act No 14 of 2021 further permits the use of online applications for protection orders. This is a viable option for victims of domestic violence to access our court services remotely and in a convenient and safe environment of their choice.
The Department has already developed the Online Web Portal for Domestic Violence Applications for Protection Orders, and this system will be accessed by the public as soon as the date of commencement for this Act is set this year. Very soon, I shall be approving the Amendment to the Regulations for the Domestic Violence Amendment Act.

Shortly, I shall also be approving the Amendment to Regulations for the National Register for Sex Offenders, which has been aligned with the new Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act No 13 of 2021.

In response to the call made by women of South Africa in 2018, this Amendment Act requires the particulars of ALL convicted sex offenders to be entered in the National Register for Sex offenders, irrespective of the age and the mental status of the victim. No registered sex offender will be allowed to work or operate a business in an environment accessible to vulnerable persons - defined as children, female students or lecturers under the age of 25 years, persons living in shelters, and certain categories of persons with disabilities and older persons, etc.

In facilitating the implementation of this Act, the DoJ&CD has developed the Online Web Portal and the SMS Notification System for the National Register on Sexual Offences services, which will be made accessible to the NRSO applicants in this financial year. The decentralisation of certain services of the NRSO to our lower courts will also commence during the same period.
Through the implementation of the NRSO, the Department intends to curb the exposure of vulnerable persons to pedophiles and serial sex offenders and also to prevent sex offending in the country.

It adds more pain to victims of gender-based violence when their perpetrators roam the streets shortly after police arrest. In terms of the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Act No 12 of 2021, bail in GBVF matters must be denied, unless it would be in the interests of justice to grant such bail. This Amendment Act also brings to an end the granting of what is referred to as the 'police bail' or 'prosecution bail' in GBVF matters. All applications for bail in these cases must therefore be made in a court of law.

Modernising justice services through the use of digital capabilities requires a supporting, responsive and stable underlying IT infrastructure. The Department's currently ageing IT infrastructure does not bode well in this regard.
The Department endeavours on upgrading and ensuring the continuous upkeep of its IT infrastructure as this will not only impact the delivery of existing services enabled by technology but also its modernisation program.


In the last financial the Department piloted four online justice services projects:

All these will be rolled out nationally during this financial year.
Unfortunately, in September 2021, the Department suffered a ransomware attack, which not only impacted the delivery of existing services enabled by technology but also its modernisation program. The Department, with the support of the relevant state agencies and industry experts, managed to restore services within a reasonable amount of time, given the complexity of the issue at hand. We continuously strive to protect the Department's digital assets through continuous threat detection and monitoring, which includes the implementation of new security products, based on continuous security assessments.

Honourable Members,
In its efforts of trying to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the South African criminal justice process, the Integrated Justice System has planned 4 key initiatives over the 2022/ 23 period.


Firstly, Criminal Justice System e-Documents and Forms (Justice Forms):
This initiative focuses on reviewing processes to eliminate forms that are made redundant by the electronic exchange of information between Criminal Justice System departments as well as the digitisation of all documents and certificates that remain necessary.


Secondly, Court Audio Visual Solution for case participants - Phase 2:
This will be a video conferencing and video-ID verification facility that will be used for witnesses/victims' interviews and testimony in cases where direct contact is not feasible or very expensive, as well as in cases where expert witnesses are required in court.
In cases where the public cannot afford the cost of data or does not have the smart devices needed to connect to the Court Dial-in facility, these services will be made available at local government offices for use based on the arrangement.


Thirdly, E-Scheduling and Messaging for Courts:
This is a court information management and sharing system that allows for the tracking of court dates, court process start times, arrival and checking-in of witnesses, victims, the accused, defence lawyers and prosecutors. This system will facilitate the scheduling and communication of court decisions (e.g., postponements and new dates).  The solution was developed and tested and subsequently rolled into production. The pilot commenced at the Bronkhorstspruit and Cullinan magistrates’ courts.


Fourthly, Integrated Bail Payment Processing and Release Management (Pay-Bail-Anywhere):
The Integrated Bail Payment Processing and Release Management solution will, once it is fully developed and operational, enable lawyers/ family members of the accused to "pay bail anywhere".


Legislative Reforms
It is not just technology that will modernise our society. We need timely and transformative legislation as well. In this financial year, we will be working on 18 bills which will transform our policy trajectory 4. This includes the RICA bill that will provide additional oversight mechanisms and bring it up to date with the latest technological advancement.


Transformation of State Legal Services
Honourable Members, in 2020, State Attorney finalized 574 litigation cases, this increased to 657 litigation cases in 2021/22 financial year. This is an increase of 83 cases or 14%. We settled more cases through alternative dispute resolutions in 2021/22 compared to 2020/21. In 2020/21, 358 cases settled. While in 2021/22, cases resolved through mediation increased to 414 litigation cases, an increase of 56 cases or 16%. Our mediation policy is paying a lot of dividends.
We are pleased to report that the Intergovernmental National Litigation Forum has been resuscitated to ensure that government has a coordinated approach to the management of State litigation, emphasizing the reduction of State contingent liability.

Court Administration Model
Honourable Members, the Judiciary submitted the Institutional Models Report to the Executive in 2013 wherein their preferred court administration model was outlined. As part of our commitment to implement the National Development Plan 2030 and also to respond to the Judiciary, I intend, during this financial year to approach Cabinet to finalise this outstanding matter.

Rationalisation of the Divisions of the High Court
Item 16(6) to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa enjoins me as the cabinet minister responsible for the administration of justice to manage the rationalisation of all courts and legislation with a view of establishing a judicial system suited to the requirements of the Constitution. As I indicated in last year's Budget Vote Speech, we have commenced with the last phase of the rationalisation of the areas under the jurisdiction of the High Courts and their judicial establishments.
A Rationalisation Committee under the leadership of former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke is overseeing this process and will soon be engaged in consultative engagements with all the relevant key stakeholders within the Justice family to ensure that this process is inclusive. I wish to make a clarion call to all the stakeholders to participate and contribute to the work of the Committee which is envisaged to be completed during this financial year. 

The Year of the Community
The Budget Vote being tabled today takes place in the year that the 25th anniversary of the Constitution came into effect – a milestone for our nation that the Department has marked over the past year, and will continue to celebrate through community engagement, provincial symposia, and a national conference, among others, throughout the year ahead.
As a department, we have been inspired by the robust discourse that our vibrant nation has around issues of constitutionalism and the creation of a just and equal society, based on the principles of non-racism, non-sexism, and equality for all, as well as an a determination to ensure that there is unequivocal enforcement of the rule of law.
We have also taken to heart the rallying call of our President, the Honourable Cyril Ramaphosa that "no one must be left behind". To this extent, the Department has themed its programme of action for the year as "The Year of the Community" – a campaign that was launched in Carolina in Mpumalanga, and which was followed by another intense engagement with the community of Delft in the Western Cape, just last week. By implication, "The Year of the Community" not only aims to strengthen our interactions with communities across the country but also to drive our ethics in serving these communities.
We aim to visit more provinces during the financial year and believe that the Department will be able to provide concrete interventions that will alleviate the plight of the recipients of justice services.
By implication, “The Year of the Community” not only aims to strengthen our interactions with communities across the country but also to entrench the principles of Batho Pele in serving communities.
We aim to visit more provinces during the course of the financial year and believe that the Department will be able to provide concrete interventions that will alleviate the plight of the recipients of justice services.
The process to build a professional, ethical, and capable department has begun and will continue through the implementation of various frameworks and initiatives. Both the Senior Management of the Department and myself remain committed to addressing all the issues raised by the Auditor General that affect the audit opinion. We will continue to work hard to ensure that the Department obtains an unqualified opinion to achieve a clean audit in the forthcoming financial performance cycles.
This year presents an opportunity for the implementation of the full and rigorous Turnaround Strategy that was developed in 2021/2022. 
In conclusion, I want to reiterate the vision of my term in office and it can be found in the words of well-known author, Chinua Achebe who said: "A functioning, robust democracy requires a healthy, educated, participatory followership, and an educated, morally grounded leadership."

 

I thank you.

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1. Public Protector of South Africa budget allocation amounts to R 357. 9 million for the financial year

2. South African Human Rights Commission budget allocation amounts to R208. 5 million for the financial year

3. Information Regulator budget allocation amounts to R million for the financial year 2022/23 see Deputy Minister Honourable John Jeffery Budget Vote Speech for a detailed reference.

4. See Deputy Minister John Jeffery Speech for a detailed outline.