The establishment of commercial courts under the Administration of Justice is at advanced stage and is expected to be complete in the first half of 2021.
The courts will deal with matters arising from public tenders which are often blemished with disputes by tendering companies.
“The Steering Committee is working on implementation of the Commercial Court Pilot Project. It was however halted from pursuing its mandate further by the advent of COVID-19 pandemic.
After the publication of the amendment rules of the High Court, which are now being processed for publication, the Chief Justice will be empowered to issue practice directives on matters of “exceptional public importance,” said Defense, Justice, and Security Minister, Kagiso Mmusi, at the end of the winter meeting last week.
Mmusi added that under the new High Court rules, the Chief Justice will deal with the delays in disposal of tender cases, which are at great expense to the parties and to the country, and also deprive the public their due service delivery.
“Further to this practice, we will issue another directive which will deal with the eminent national priority of Gender Based Violence. These two case-types will be dealt with as urgent applications. However, although for GBV, the Administration of Justice will be harnessing the available resources, going forward, it will need resources to have dedicated courts for the case-type,” said Mmusi who is also MP for Gabane Mmankgodi.
He added that in response to public outcry on the lenient sentences by Magistrates’ Courts, and indiscriminate granting of bail even to repeat offenders, the minister said that the issue is under consideration by the Chief Justice and is hoped that there will be no interference on the independence of the Judiciary.
“However, I can confirm to the House that efforts are at an advanced stage to review the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Courts. This will allow them to efficiently and effectively deal with sophisticated and complex cases,” Mmusi said.
Meanwhile, the Registrar and Master of the High Court, Michael Motlhabi, recently told the Public Accounts Committee that the AOJ is reviewing the processes of granting bail to accused persons, especially for serious offences such as murder, armed robbery and rape.