By Mbono Mdluli | 2019-05-16
Lawyers have been blamed for causing a backlog of cases in courts.
This was revealed by Supreme Court Registrar Lungile Msimango yesterday during the appearance of the Judiciary before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The legal eagles have been blamed for having a tendency of postponing cases at the 11th hour.
Msimango said this when responding to concerns raised by PAC members.
The PAC said the backlog of cases had seen government losing about E15 million because of civil servants who were suspended with pay from 2010 up to now.
Msimango said another factor that contributed to the backlog of cases was the shortage of magistrates and judges.
Some magistrates had to try cases in circuit courts, with no one at the main Magistrate’s Courts. The registrar further said the Judiciary was doing something to address the backlog of cases.
They appointed acting judges and magistrates to deal with this and it yielded positive results.
PAC Chairperson Phila Buthelezi said lawyers should not get away with postponing cases.
There should be ways of punishing them for doing so because at the end it was government that felt the brunt.
In response, High Court Registrar Siphiwo Masuku said there were no mechanisms of punishing lawyers who had a tendency of postponing cases at the 11th hour. She said that was the prerogative of the judge presiding over the case in which the lawyers were involved.
Masuku said the judge would listen to the reasons which would cause the lawyers to postpone the cases.
Once the judge was not convinced by the reasons, he/she would call upon the lawyer/s to pay relevant costs associated with postponing the case.
The registrar further said the appointment of acting magistrates and judges played a significant role in addressing the backlog of cases in courts.
She said criminal cases now dated back to 2012 yet in 2016 the same kind of cases dated back to 2001.
She also said civil cases dated back to 2009. Masuku said there was a need for more posts to be created for judges and magistrates so that they could work efficiently.
Acting judges and magistrates did not have support staff like clerks who could help them execute their duties.
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