Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has announced that the public will soon apply online for protection orders as his department modernises the justice system.
I am pleased that our Domestic Violence Bill will introduce modernisation in a radical form. If passed, our domestic violence bill will make it possible for one to apply for a protection order online,” Lamola said when he tabled his adjustment budget in a virtual mini-plenary of the National Assembly.
Lamola said the reform would be a leap forward in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.
“This is the first of several reforms we want to introduce. For instance, there is no reason why uncontested divorce applications and maintenance applications cannot be done online,” he said.
The minister also said the adjustment budget sought to make the criminal justice system accessible and effective.
The department’s budget was reduced by R416m to R21.9bn following the budget cuts aimed to fund Covid-19 interventions.
The cuts included R111m in the compensation of employees, R122m from court infrastructure, R150m from the National Prosecuting Authority, R10m from the Special Investigating Unit and R23m from Legal Aid South Africa.
Lamola said the revised budget would fund the State Capture Commission to the tune of R130m and R334m will be spent on Covid-19 related expenditure such as PPE procurement and decontamination of offices and justice service points.
The minister said the budget for information technology and modernisation has been increased from R529m to R623m with a further planned expenditure of R688m on the integrated Justice System programme.
Day-to-day maintenance of courts has been allocated R64m, R24.4m goes towards upgrading the justice infrastructure.
Lamola added that the budget also included a R2bn allocation to Legal Aid South Africa, R442m to the Special Investigations Unit, R333m to the Public Protector of South Africa and R200m to the South African Human Rights Commission.
The minister urged everyone in society to tackle the scourge of gender-based violence.
“Gender-based violence and femicide continue to erode the rights of women in particular. Women no longer feel safe in any space in South Africa,” he said.
“Although the criminal justice system is not a silver bullet, it is critical in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.”
Lamola said the criminal justice system should be able to respond with the required level of sensitivity to the most vulnerable in society.
“It must continue to place victims at the centre.”
He said his department in the past financial year unveiled 13 sexual offences courts across the country which were victim centric in nature.
“Soon, honourable members, we will be seized with three pieces of legislation which further seek to address gender-based violence.
“These will amend the National Sexual Offenders Register, the Domestic Violence Act, and regulate bail conditions for people who are accused of committing a sexual offence,” he said.
Lamola also said the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development would in 2020/21 introduce Femicide Watch, which is a special monitoring system to highlight and track violent crimes committed against women.
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