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Access to justice for all

Written by Noluthando Motswai
Limpopo residents have quick, easy access to justice.

The newly opened Polokwane High Court now has a new wing dedicated to labour issues thanks to the Office of the Chief Justice.

The Labour and Labour Appeals Court was proclaimed by the President and operates as a specialised court to deal with labour disputes.

Spokesperson for the South African Judiciary Nathi Mncube said there are no costs for accessing the court unless parties appoint attorneys or advocates who charge for their services.

He said previously applications had to be lodged at the main seat of the Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

“The launching of the Polokwane branch is part of ongoing efforts to guarantee access to justice for all South Africans,” Mncube said.

He added that the Limpopo branch of the labour court will not operate any differently to the main seat in Braamfontein and branches in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

“The Labour Court has jurisdiction in all nine provinces as such the functions of the court may be performed at any place. Whenever there is a need to go to other provinces, arrangements are made with the relevant courts for assistance.”

Satellite offices of the court have been established in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. The Office of the Chief Justice has increased the administrative capacity in these provinces to ensure adequate support to the Judiciary.

The Labour Court has jurisdiction to adjudicate over cases referred by the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration bargaining councils and litigants also have direct access to the court including appeals emanating from Labour Court hearings.

Ten judges have been appointed in the division. Acting judges are appointed periodically to handle cases during recess periods.

Who are the Heads of Courts?

The term “Heads of Courts” refers to the collective leadership of the jsudiciary in the country. Essentially, Heads of Courts comprise the Chief Justice as the Head of the Constitutional Court; the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal; the Deputy President of the Supreme Court of Appeal in his capacity as the Head of the Electoral Court; the Judges President of the various divisions of the High Court and Courts of equivalent status like the Labour Court and the Land Claims Court.

Who is the Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa?

The Hon Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Who is the Acting Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa?

The Hon Bess Nkabinde.

Who appoints the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice?

In terms of Section 174 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa the President, as head of the national executive, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly, appoints the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice and, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission, appoints the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

What is the difference between judges and magistrates?

A judge is a presiding officer in a Superior Court and a magistrate presides over matters in a Regional or District Magistrate’s Court.

Who appoints magistrates?

The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, on the advice of the Magistrates’ Commission, appoints magistrates.

 

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