The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is on a mission to get defaulters to pay maintenance and to make it easier for beneficiaries to get the money.
With its new Kha ri Unde campaign, the department will pursue people who fail to pay maintenance with more vigour.
It will also put systems in place to make it easier for beneficiaries to apply for maintenance and get their money on time.
The campaign, which means ‘let us pay maintenance’ in Tshivenda, is being piloted in nine courts across the country. So far, 50 Maintenance Officers, 18 Data Capturers and 30 Maintenance Investigators have been hired and are undergoing training at the pilot sites. Once all pilot sites have undergone final inspections, the Kha ri Unde campaign will be implemented nationally to all courts and sites over the next three years. The project has also improved systems at the pilot sites, including the managing of queues; an application desk; an investigation desk; a process desk and a mediation desk.
According to Advocate Mable Khoza, Legal Administration Officer responsible for maintenance in the Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups (PRVG) Unit, “the department identified an urgent need for a more comprehensive, all embracing and long-term initiative aimed at addressing the current systemic inefficiencies that delay service delivery in maintenance.”
To help reduce the time it takes to pay maintenance money to beneficiaries, the department introduced a decentralised Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) payment system in 301 courts country-wide.
“This has reduced the payment of maintenance money to under 48 hours after allocation by the courts, where previously, beneficiaries would wait for payment for up to 14 days”, said Nico Van Harmelen, Director responsible for Third Party Funds (TPF) Management.
Haremelen added that the department was in the process of rolling out the new EFT sy tem to the pilot court sites.
The department is also looking at the possibility of getting employers to pay maintenance money directly into the accounts of beneficiaries once a court has granted an order.
This way, says Advocate Khoza, the beneficiary can only approach the court to lodge a complaint when there is a default, in which case a warrant of arrest can be issued or property attached.
The new Kha ri Unde pilot project follows the department’s previous maintenance campaign called Operation Isondlo. Launched in December 2005, the project made great strides in tracing unclassified accounts, issuing warrant of arrests together with the police on maintenance defaulters, and worked together with provincial transport departments to apprehend defaulters during routine roadblocks.