Judges vow to tackle court delays

Judges at a four-day judicial gathering in Pretoria have resolved to tackle court backlogs and delays.

Constitutional Court Chief Justice Pius Langa, addressing a media briefing on Wednesday, said judges would take steps to eliminate all backlogs in the country’s civil and criminal justice system.

This entailed developing and putting into effect proper case management rules and reviewing the current rules of practice and procedures to ensure that these promoted rather than obstructed access to courts.

Langa said judges supported the idea of a single judiciary as envisaged by the Constitution. This would include magistrate’s courts, with the Constitutional Court as the apex of the hierarchy.

He said the judiciary should also be empowered to administer courts and its own budgets. The shelved Superior Courts Bill had proposed that the Justice Department administer courts.
This was strongly opposed by many judges.

“To this extent the judiciary will cooperate with other branches of the government to develop a model of court administrations that best reflects the principle of judicial independence,” he said.

Langa added that judges welcomed the commitment of the executive to independence of the judiciary.

“We will continue to act fearlessly and be guided by conscience as [we] are only accountable to the Constitution and the law. We will not bow to any pressure regardless of its source,” Langa said.

The judges’ conference closed on Wednesday and a draft declaration was adopted. The judiciary was likely to meet again in three years’ time for a follow-up conference.—Sapa

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