Superior Courts Act signed into law

October 1st, 2013

By Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele

President Jacob Zuma has signed the Superior Courts Bill 7 of 2001 into law. In a press release, the presidency states that the new Superior Courts Act 10 of 2013 will restructure the judiciary and integrate the courts, while enhancing equal access to justice.

‘The Superior Courts Bill aims to consolidate all the laws relating to the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Court into a single piece of legislation.’ The press release goes on to state that the Act would establish a single High Court of South Africa.

The Bill was approved by cabinet in December 2010. Until now, the country’s superior courts were largely structured in accordance with the Supreme Court Act 59 of 1959, which was passed during apartheid rule.

The press release states: ‘Through the Act’s implementation, the current 13 High Courts, which include High Courts inherited from the former “self-governing” apartheid homelands of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei and Venda, will be rationalised into a single High Court with a fully functional Division of the Court established in each province.’

In the statement President Zuma said: ‘The communities who live in the now Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces have endured the hardship of accessing the High Court in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria since the formation of the Union of South Africa for a period of more than a century. Legally, they can now have the benefit of having their own division of the High Court right at their doorstep.’

President Zuma went on to say that the construction of the Limpopo High Court should be completed by June 2014 and added that the construction of the Mpumalanga High Court was expected to commence before the end of this year.

The Superior Courts Act is intertwined with the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act, 2012 which the President signed early in February this year. The Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act, together with a host of apartheid legislation, including the Natives’ Land Act 27 of 1913 and the Group Areas Act 41 of 1950 formed the bastion of the separate administration based on racial segregation.

Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele,

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2013 (Oct) DR 14.