Pretoria — The Acting Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Faith Muthambi, has appointed 48 senior magistrates in various courts across the country.
The appointment of the new candidates, who will assume their new roles on 1 May, is in line with government's commitment to transform the judiciary.
In a statement, the department said the appointments bring about fundamental reforms in the racial and gender demographics within the judicial arm of the State.
Of the 48 appointed candidates, 47 are black and 23 are women.
With this round of appointments, the overall racial and gender composition of the magistracy has improved substantially.
"As a result, black magistrates comprise 1 000 (64%) of the 1 570 magistrates in the country. About 702 (45%) of the magistrates are women," the department said.
Minister Muthambi, who is standing in for Minister Michael Masutha, who is recovering from illness, said she was "encouraged that more and more women are taking up opportunities to compete with their male counterparts for senior positions in the male-dominated judiciary.
"The nomination of the first woman, who is also an African, to the position of President of the Supreme Court of Appeal by President Zuma, should be an inspiration to many other women," said Minister Muthambi.
The Department of Justice said the appointment of senior magistrates will improve court management and increase efficiency at magistrates courts, where the majority of citizens come into contact with the justice system.
The senior magistrates are expected to play a crucial role as mentors for newly appointed magistrates, especially at a time when the magistrates' commission commences with the process of appointing 214 entry-level magistrates.