- Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has announced the appointment of 158 new magistrates.
- The new legal officers are expected to take up their posts by 1 October.
- Lamola commended the Magistrates Commission for their efforts in filling the posts.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has appointed 158 new magistrates who will take office on 1 October.
"I want to commend the Magistrates Commission for their efforts in the enormous tasks of filling these posts. The shortlisting and interviewing of 418 candidates is unprecedented - all the more so given that the Commission had to do so under trying conditions brought about by Covid-19," Lamola said.
He said the filling of the vacancies was an important step, "... in capacitating our judicial officers and our courts, so as to enable them to deliver justice to all".
In a statement released by his spokesperson Chrispin Phiri, Lamola's department said the magistrate's courts were the, "... coalface of our justice system.
"It is vital that these courts, which are often the first port of call for the dispensing of justice, are well-capacitated and functioning optimally," said Phiri.
He said the new appointees would have between now and October to hand in necessary resignation notices at their current positions and, where needed, make arrangements to relocate.
Phiri said that of the 158 new appointments 104 are black, 23 are coloured, eight are Indian, and 23 are white. In terms of gender, 88 are female and 70 male.
The new appointments show how far we have come in terms of gender and racial transformation, as there are now 695 African, 143 Indian, 176 coloured, and 388 white persons on the level of Magistrate.
He said that if one included the regional, senior, and chief magistrates, as well as the Regional Court Presidents, "... to get a view of the magistracy as a whole", 957 are black (50%), 204 are Indian (10,6%), 224 are coloured (11,7%), and 528 are white (27,6%) out of a total of 1 913.
A total of 947 are women, Phiri said.
"This means that 72,3% of our magistracy are black and 49,5% are female."
He said that in terms of the regulations for judicial officers in the lower courts all newly appointment magistrates must, before commencing with the functions of a judicial officer, attend a course with the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI).
Phiri said the Magistrates Commission plays an important role in the filling of vacancies of magistrates' posts.
The Magistrates Commission is a statutory body established in terms of the Magistrates Act, 1993 and the appointment procedures and processes are set out in the legislation and in accompanying Regulations.
Phiri outlined the appointment process saying vacancies were first identified and confirmed against the judicial establishment and funded posts. Thereafter posts are advertised, applications are processed, and shortlisting is done.
Thereafter interviews are held and recommendations are made by the Magistrates Commission after the conclusion of the interviews.
The recommendations are submitted to the Minister of Justice for his consideration and appointment.