"The appointment of acting magistrates is underway," spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said on Sunday.
This would ensure that an acting magistrate could carry on with cases which were ready to proceed. Mhaga said acting appointments would put a damper on protesting magistrates' plans to postpone criminal and civil trials scheduled for Monday.
"There might be minimal disruptions. We don't expect anything massive."
Mhaga said magistrates were classified as public office bearers and, as such, "whatever they do is illegal". Magistrates who join the strike could face disciplinary action or even impeachment, he said.
If members of the public experienced problems on Monday, they should contact the court managers, who would be at all the courts.
Mhaga said magistrates affiliated with the Judicial Officers Association of South Africa (Joasa) claimed they would escalate protest action on March 25 if their wage demands were not met.
"The department will continue to engage with Joasa to find an amicable solution." Mhaga said the justice department was working to ensure that salary adjustments of 5.5% for 1912 magistrates would be implemented by April 15 and backdated to the beginning of that month.
A dispute over this salary increase forms part of a matter before the Constitutional Court.
Magistrates are demanding a single pay structure for the judiciary: one that would have their salaries and benefits put on the same sliding scale as those of judges. This could see their salaries increase by almost 100%. – Sapa