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‘Justice system overhaul would mean no more meddling’

A proposed overhaul of South Africa’s justice system will prevent “meddling” with case files, says the high court’s Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann.

A proposed overhaul of South Africa’s justice system will prevent “meddling” with case files, North Gauteng High Court Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann said on Thursday.

“With this system, judges will be given §an electronic case file the moment a case is opened. The electronic files will be saved in a server and will have certain features to prevent meddling,” he said.

Bertelsmann was talking at the opening of the Consumer Goods Council of SA annual conference in Johannesburg.

He said the new system was decided on at a national judiciary meeting in 2009, and was being initiated this year.

“Previous chief justice Sandile Ngcobo endorsed this model, and his enthusiasm has been carried over with new chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.”

He said the system would speed up trials.

“Delays are simply not good enough. Our criminal justice system is creaky in its joints. We have 40 000 people awaiting trial in prisons. Some are granted bail, and others can’t even raise R300 needed for bail.

“It is unfair that we punish people, at a cost to ourselves that is greater than R300, because these people are poor. That does not sit well with a Constitution that demands equality and dignity.”

He said an efficient, and technologically advanced justice system would benefit the consumer goods council as well.

“How would we deal with crime, protect brands and patents, guard against unfair competition and protect labourers from being exploited if we never had courts?

“We are embarking on a very exciting trek… that has filled us with optimism. This new process demands a new culture, and we need the support of all members of civil society, including consumer organisations.” — Sapa

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