Picture: 123RF/STOCKSTUDIO44
Picture: 123RF/STOCKSTUDIO44

The whole justice department is offline; every court in the land is offline. No emails in, no emails out.

In an accountable constitutional state the justice system being offline for five straight weeks, and intermittently for three months before that, would have led to the minister, deputy minister and director-general resigning.

I suggested to the South Gauteng High Court master’s office that estates be registered and executors’ authorisations be issued manually. Their position is that this cannot be done as the computer generates estate numbers. They do not know on what number they stopped when the system crashed.

There is a lot of speculation that this was a ransomware attack. They simply do not know. To me, it is clear —  bearing in mind that police forensics collapsed, that the printing of licence cards is suspended because of lack of payment of service providers, and so on — that the reason for the justice blackout is that service providers have not been paid.

Yet the somnolent opposition say and do nothing. This blackout could only happen against the background of a complete lack of parliamentary oversight by the portfolio committee for justice & constitutional development. Meanwhile, low priority jamborees like National Wills Week continue, unashamed.

It took the Legal Practice Council three years to establish an ombudsman. Any bureaucrat who does not know how to use a diary and does not see core posts filled by the right sinecure-seeker in three years is not a fit and proper person to practice law.

Almost every failed state-owned enterprise, every “regulator”, the Public Service Commission, every failed Chapter 9 institution, is populated by members of the Bar. Small example: Joburg’s water billing scam took place right under the noses of the Consumer Commission, SA Human Rights Commission, National Energy Regulator of SA and National Credit Regulator.

All are led by advocates. Lend money to family — it is a credit agreement. The City of Johannesburg is not registered as a credit provider with the National Credit Regulator yet managed to be the beneficiary of tens of thousands of acknowledgments of debt,  which was the motive for the billing scam.

Again, this could only take place against the background of a complete lack of parliamentary oversight by the portfolio committee for justice & constitutional development.

The state must pay service providers before it pays salaries!

Brett Nortje, Via email

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