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The recently opened Durban Point Magistrate’s Court will be the first in the country where domestic violence survivors can apply for a protection order online.

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Ronald Lamola said this when he tabled the department’s budget vote to a mini plenary of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

His statement comes not long after he opened the Durban Point Magistrate’s Court on 26 March 2021.

“This court, with its immaculate design and modern fittings, will go a long way in alleviating the congestion at the main District Court of Durban.

“This court will be the first in South Africa, where domestic violence survivors can apply online for a protection order.

“We hope to learn important lessons from this pilot as we prepare to roll out a more comprehensive version throughout the country,” he said.

Lamola said, meanwhile, that the department is forging ahead with the improvement of infrastructure to increase access to justice.

He said despite the slowdown in the capital infrastructure projects, which are coordinated through the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, the department was able meet its target in the last financial year.

“[The] construction of the Dimbaza Magistrate’s Court in the Eastern Cape was also completed in October 2020.

“The department also completed major refurbishments and upgrading in a number of courts.”

Summons to be served electronically

Lamola said the department has done some considerable work in its efforts to intensify the use of ICT as a strategic enabler and a mechanism to improve access to justice services.

“Through technology, the serving of court processes like summons, which traditionally are served physically by the police and sheriffs, will now be able to be served electronically to the parties, thus freeing up time to focus on service delivery priorities.

“The integration of this technology across the justice system, will also enable a real-time single view of individuals engaging with the justice system, where for example, an integrated system will indicate, at any given point, whether individuals have protection orders against their names or are applying for maintenance from different defendants at different courts, across the country.”

Lamola said in future, the department will ensure that justice services are accessible to citizens via digital platforms.

The services will include:

  • Maintenance services available on the DOJ internet Portal;
  • Protection orders available on the DOJ internet portal; and
  • Expungement of Criminal Records services accessible via digital
  • platforms.

“In the current digital era, it has become imperative to have an effective online presence between citizens and the department.

“This initiative improves citizens’ service through greater flexibility, cost savings, faster delivery of justice service, less paper to waste and certainly increased professionalism,” the Minister said.

SAnews.gov.za

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