31 January 2020
The Judicial Matters Second Amendment Act of 2013, with the exception of section 4, comes into effect on 31 January 2020.
The presidency published Proclamation 5 in Government Gazette 42987.
The act, signed in 2014, empowers the justice minister to designate any high court or magistrates’ court as a sexual offences court. This decision must be taken in conjunction with the prosecution and the judiciary.
The minister is also able to increase or decrease the area of jurisdiction of such a court.
However, the act makes it clear that other non-designated courts will be able to continue hearing sexual offences cases when they arise.
Section 4 deals with section 67 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007 focused on regulations for sexual offences courts.
Meanwhile, in the same proclamation, the presidency has announced that sections 35 and 38 of the Judicial Matters Amendment Act of 2017 also come into effect on 31 January 2020.
The act proposes changes to a raft of acts including the Magistrates’ Courts Act, the State Liability Act, the Criminal Procedure Act, the Attorneys Act and the Sheriffs Act.
Some of the proposals include further regulating the benefits of magistrates who are required to dispose of proceedings which were not disposed of on vacation of the office of magistrate, further regulating the service of court process, giving the Rules Board for Courts of Law the power to make rules regulating various aspects in respect of small claims courts, providing for the transfer of certain moneys in the trust accounts of sheriffs to the Fidelity Fund for sheriffs, assisting impecunious litigants with the payment of costs for the execution of small claims court judgments and further regulating the electronic transmission of summonses, writs and other process.
Section 35 deals with the definition of a sexual offences court while section 38 inserts new subsections into Section 55A of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007 focused on the setting up of sexual offences courts.
In a separate matter, the department published, in Gazette 42980, two Promotion of Access to Information Act descriptions:
The descriptions list records available for inspection, purchasing, copying and free of charge.