Picture: 123RF/IGOR TEREKHOV
Picture: 123RF/IGOR TEREKHOV

Legal practitioners have lamented a “technical glitch” that resulted in the government printers not confirming with customers when an advert will appear for publication in the Government Gazette.  

The Government Gazette, which is published by the Government Printing Works, is used to communicate vital notices of a legal, administrative and general nature.

This includes proclamations by the president, regulations and notices by various government departments. Legal information including insolvencies, liquidations and estate notices is also covered in the Government Gazette.

The technical glitch made it impossible for customers and legal practitioners to co-ordinate the placement of debtors or creditors notices in newspapers with the publication in the Government Gazette.

“This is not the first time this is happening,” said labour lawyer Michael Bagraim. “I think it’s the fourth or fifth time we’ve had this in the last two years.”

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi told Business Day last week that the internal information technology (IT) system had experienced a technical glitch that led to the notices not being published. “We have a chief information officer who is supposed to be an expert in IT, but we had to call people from outside [the department] to come and resolve the issue,” he said. “As to whether that technical glitch was out of his depth is something that we will have to investigate.”

Motsoaledi said the glitch had since been resolved and the department was working about the clock to make sure that any backlog that might have accumulated was cleared.

Bagraim said that when technical glitches hit, “the whole world comes to a standstill”.

“The department of home affairs has been dysfunctional and to have this on top of that just multiplies the dysfunctionality,” he said.

Bagraim said he could not understand why the technical glitch occurred in the first place.

“They keep saying these are technical glitches, but what does that mean? This is all about printing, there is no such thing as a technical glitch. I think it’s just incompetence,” he said.

“There is no consequence management: if someone loses their job over this, then it’s not going to happen again. I’m sure it’s human error. If legal notices are not printed then everything comes to a standstill. In terms of the law, it has to be printed.”

Black Lawyers Association president Mashudu Kutama said the Government Gazette plays an important role in a democratic society. “If legal notices are not published timeously that could lead to a backlog and pose a challenge to freedom of access to information. Even the lockdown regulations have to be published in the Government Gazette, that’s how crucial it is,” he said.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za

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