Practice: Move to online platforms this year – Minister

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola says his department is developing an online system for the reporting of deceased estates, expected to come on stream in this financial year. A Business Day report says during his department’s budget debate in the National Assembly this week, Lamola noted an amount of R626m had been allocated for the integrated justice system project in the current financial year and a further R524.3m for the department’s modernization projects.

An online reporting system for deceased estates would ‘drastically reduce queues and walk-in customers in the offices of the Masters or at the service points’, Lamola said. ‘It is envisaged that the deceased estate online services will be implemented in the 2021/2022 year.’ An online service for the registration of trusts would also be introduced in 2021 to streamline the process and ‘assist in curbing fraud as applicants will be able to lodge their applications online. This will assist with the workload of the trust sections (of the Master’s Office) as most information will be captured and scanned in by the applicants.’ Through technology, the serving of court processes such as summons will now be served electronically. ‘The integration of this technology across the justice system will also enable a real-time single view of individuals engaging with the justice system where, for example, an integrated system will indicate, at any given point, whether individuals have protection orders against their names or are applying for maintenance from different defendants at different courts, across the country,’ said the Minister. ‘We will ensure that justice services are accessible to citizens via digital platforms including maintenance services, protection orders and the expungement of criminal records services.’

The Durban Point Magistrate’s Court will be the first court where domestic violence victims can apply online for a protection order. ‘We hope to learn important lessons from this pilot as we prepare to roll out a more comprehensive version throughout the country,’ Lamola said. According to an IoL report, he said the court would go a long way in alleviating the congestion at the main District Court of Durban. Lamola said the budget for the department in 2021-22 was R21.5bn, which was cut by R2.4bn. Lamola said the Specialized Commercial Crimes Courts were central to the fight against corruption and would contribute to the successful implementation of the anti-corruption strategy. The Minister added that 100 sexual offences courts would be dedicated in terms of section 55A of the Sexual Offences Act to improve the adjudication of sexual offences matters.

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