Judiciary report to enhance transparency and public confidence

March 15th, 2023

The Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, Raymond Zondo, delivered the Annual Judiciary Report 2021/22 on 24 February 2023 at the Constitutional Court. During his presentation Chief Justice Zondo said that the judiciary regards s 165(2) of the Constitution as the basis for its obligation to account for the performance of its judicial function to the people of South Africa (SA). He added that during the first-ever judicial accountability session in 2018, former Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, said that like functions in the other arms of the state, judicial officers are accountable to the public in the execution of their functions.

Chief Justice Zondo pointed out that the report will contribute to enhancing transparency, accountability, and public confidence in the judiciary of SA. He said that the commitment and co-operation of judicial officers have ensured the continued improvements of the judicial functions in many respects as illustrated by the Annual Judiciary Report 2021/22. Regarding matters of technology in the court, Chief Justice Zondo said that the support by the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ), continued to prioritise information and communication technology as a strategic enabler.

Chief Justice Zondo noted that technology plays an important role in ensuring an efficient court system. That as such, advantage was taken of the Fourth Industrial Revolution with initiatives such as the Court Online system, which aims to provide a platform for filing documents to the courts electronically and helps to minimise the physical movement of people and paper-based court processes regarding litigation. It was stated in the report that during the period under review, the OCJ has planned to roll out the Court Online system in two service centres. He said that the Court Online system has, however, been partially implemented in the Gauteng Division of the High Court. The report further stated that the pilot phase will proceed until defects have been dealt with to ensure a fully effective and operational system when it is rolled out to all other Superior Courts.

The report touched on the importance of education. It stated that continued training of the judiciary is critical to enhance judicial accountability and transformation of the judiciary. The report added that during the period under review the South African Judicial Education Institute conducted 168 courses, exceeding the planned target of 105 courses.

Among other things spoken about was the Judicial Conduct Tribunal, which was appointed to inquire into certain allegations of misconduct or whenever it appears that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a judge is suffering from incapacity, gross incompetency or guilty of gross misconduct. The report also provided statistics regarding judicial appointments, among other things. It stated that during the period under review a total of 52 judges were appointed, of which 40% were black females, 37% were black males, 17% white males and 6% white females. Race and composition of all judges is made up of 39% black males, 32% black females, 17% white males and 13% white females.

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