State Attorney’s office to be reformed

August 4th, 2020
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By Kgomotso Ramotsho

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, said that one of his offices’ key priorities is to reform the State Attorney’s office. Minister Lamola announced that the changes are currently underway during the Justice and Constitutional Development Department Budget Vote for 2020/21 to Parliament on 23 July. He pointed out that his office has operationalised the State Attorney Amendment Act 13 of 2014 and appointed an Acting Solicitor General with the mandate to stabilise the State Attorney’s Office by providing strategic leadership and management to all the offices across South Africa (SA) within 24 months and that seven vacancies for Heads of State Attorney across the country, are in the process of being filled.

Mr Lamola pointed out that the state attorney must leverage on state owned enterprises and all government departments to transform the legal profession. He added that this financial year, the process to transfer the legal representation function (and related budget) undertaken by the Land Rights Management Facility in the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, will be transferred to Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid SA).

Mr Lamola said this transfer will ensure that Legal Aid SA has both the finances and capacity required to broaden its reach to the indigent, especially those who seek land justice. He added that the department will also introduce the Land Court Bill (the Bill) with the aim of establishing a Land Court, which replaces the Land Claims Court in the current system. He noted that under the Bill, the Land Court will have the jurisdiction to deal with certain identified national laws, which have a bearing on land and also promote and provide for alternative dispute resolution structures similar to those of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. He pointed out that this special court will play a critical role in land jurisprudence.

Mr Lamola pointed out that as a sign of commitment to this process, President Cyril Ramaphosa has already approved the establishment of two permanent posts in the Land Claims Court, which were supposed to have been filled in the last round of the Judicial Service Commission’s interviews. Mr Lamola said that he hopes the posts will be filled during the next round of interviews.

Mr Lamola spoke about constitutionalism. He noted that next year will mark 25 years since SA became a non-racial, non-sexiest, united and democratic state. He said that regardless of the challenges the nation has experienced over the past years, the Constitution has served the people of SA well. He added that the commitment to build and deepen constitutionalism, respect for human rights and the rule of law continues. ‘This commitment is the greatest tribute we can pay to the late Rivonia trialist, Tata Andrew Mlangeni,’ Mr Lamola said.

Mr Lamola pointed out that the next year SA will also commemorate a historic milestone, which is 25 years since the adoption and final certification of the Constitution. He added that this will present South Africans with an opportunity to reflect and take stock of how far the country has come in implementing the priorities and objectives of the Constitution of SA.

‘It is an opportunity to review how the resilience and strength of our constitutional order has been tested. Since our Constitution is a living document and social contract between the state and the people, it was not meant to be static but dynamic,’ Mr Lamola added. He pointed out that programmes will be put in place to observe this historic milestone and have the nation engage in a conversation about the state of SA’s constitutional order.

Mr Lamola also paid homage to all judicial officers and officials who succumbed to COVID-19.

The following revised budget was allocated –

  • R 130 million has been allocated to the State Capture Commission;
  • R 334 million has been earmarked through savings, for COVID-19 related expenditure, such as personal protective equipment procurement and the decontamination of offices and justice service points;
  • a revision and increasing of the budget for information technology and the modernisation of equipment has been increased from R 529 million to R 663 million;
  • R 688 million has been allocted to the Integrated Justice System programme;
  • R 64 million has been allocated to day-to-day maintenance of courts;
  • R 24,4 million has been set aside for upgrading of justice infrastructure;
  • R 2 billon has been allocated to Legal Aid SA;
  • R 442 million has been allocated to the Special Investigations Unit;
  • R 333 million has been allocated to the Office of the Public Protector; and
  • R 200 million has been allocated to the South African Human Rights Commission.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.