Plans to bring South Africa’s courts and legal services online
The Department of Justice and Corrections announces that it is rolling out four digital pilot projects nationwide this year – with four more projects in the pipeline to digitize and modernize the South African justice system.
Addressing Parliament during its vote on the budget on Wednesday May 18, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said four e-justice service projects that have been piloted over the past year have proven successful, with the intention now to deploy them nationwide in the current fiscal year. .
- the Online maintenance services were tested at Point Durban Family Court.
- the Online Trust Services The solution enables online registration and submission of documents regarding new trust applications. This solution has been tested at the Master’s Office: Pretoria, with identified trusted agents who have used the online portal.
- Online Services for the Estates of Deceased Persons, which allows online registration and submission of documents relating to new estates of deceased persons, at the master’s office: Pretoria. Phase 1 of this solution will be rolled out nationally during this fiscal year by Cabinet du Maître.
- the State Attorney Management System involves features that will include the case management component of the solution to enable end-to-end management and tracking of cases and prosecutor files.
“All of these will be deployed nationwide during this exercise,” Lamola said.
In addition to these services, the minister said his department will work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of South Africa’s criminal justice process through the Integrated Justice System, which includes four other modernization initiatives. for the year.
- Criminal Justice System Electronic Documents and Forms (Court Forms)
This initiative involves the review of processes to eliminate forms made redundant by the electronic exchange of information between services in the criminal justice system, as well as the digitization of all documents and certificates that remain necessary.
- Phase 2 of the judicial audio-visual solution for participants in the case
This will be a videoconferencing and video identity verification facility that will be used for witness/victim interviews and testimonies in cases where direct contact is not possible or very costly, as well as in cases where expert witnesses are required in court.
In cases where the public cannot afford the cost of data or do not have the necessary smart devices to connect to the court appeal facility, these services will be made available at government offices local for use depending on the arrangement.
- Electronic Programming and Messaging for Courts
It is a court information management and sharing system that tracks court dates, start times of court proceedings, arrival and registration of witnesses, victims, defendants , defense lawyers and prosecutors.
This system will facilitate the scheduling and communication of court decisions (eg adjournments and new dates). The solution was developed and tested, then put into production. The pilot started at Bronkhorstspruit and Cullinan Magistrates Courts.
- Integrated bail payment processing and release management (Pay-Lease-Anywhere)
The integrated bail payment processing and release management solution will, once fully developed and operational, enable attorneys/family members of the accused to “pay bail anywhere”.
Lamola said the ministry will also focus on updating legislation to meet more modern standards.
“During this fiscal year, we will work on 18 bills that will transform our political trajectory. This includes the RICA bill which will provide additional oversight mechanisms and update it with the latest technological advances,” he said.
The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information (RICA) Act was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in 2021. The court declared the legislation to be unconstitutional in that it failed to provide adequate safeguards to “protect the right to privacy, reinforced by the rights to freedom of expression and to the media, to access to courts and to a fair trial”.
The decision came after journalist Sam Sole – who had been under state surveillance – and the Amabhungane Center for Investigative Journalism asked to challenge the constitutionality of the law.
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