Prof CT Msimang, MP
The Department of justice is one of the most essential government departments, not only because of its responsibility to promote justice and ensuring that it is accessible to all and sundry but also because in a country that is at times described as the criminal capital of the world, the justice department is one of the main guarantors of the rule of law and social justice in the land.
Accordingly an adequate budget for such a department is an imperative, not only for itself, but also for its numerous entities like the NPA, The office of the Legal Aid Board, the SAHRC and notably the office of the Public Protector. Unfortunately in a country that has suffered from economic depression for almost ten years, this is not always possible.
The lack of an adequate budget is the not only serious challenge confronting this department twenty two years into our democracy; one gets a very strong feeling that some of the predecessors of the current incumbent of this ministry largely neglected their duties. How else does one explain all the infrastructural deficiencies? Why is it that some of our court buildings are so dilapidated that they are described as unsuitable for human occupation?
But of course the biggest culprit when it comes to backlogs and dilapidation is the department of Public Works. Unless the department of Justice closely monitors the DPW no newly constructed buildings will be delivered on time, no existing buildings will be refurbished or maintained on time and in the case of leased buildings no lease will be renewed on time.
The vision of the department is to promote a transformed and accessible justice system, yet in the age of information technology there are still court buildings where a computer is conspicuous by its absence. Court files are still processed manually. No wonder many such files are strategically and deliberately lost so as to defeat the ends of justice.
In the administration of justice, language is a tool of paramount importance. To what degree are languages used as the medium of communication accessible to the South African Population at large? If we are serious about transformation how much pressure is the department putting on language development authorities, to ensure that all eleven official languages of the country can be used as a medium of communication in our courts? If we are serious about codification and consolidation of our common law, where is the space to bring our traditional customary law on board? After all, this is the law which is understood and practiced by millions of our people in the rural areas. Why then should we cling to the Roman Dutch Law and make it the holy bible of our common law, even when the Netherlands where this law originated, has now moved away from it!
Honourable Speaker if we are serious about transformation these are some of the questions we shall need to answer.
The IFP supports the Budget
I thank you.
Prof CT Msimang, MP