Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has appointed 158 new magistrates for courts around the country.
The date of assumption of duty for the new magistrates will be 1 October 2021. This is to enable them to give the necessary resignation notices at their current positions and make arrangements to relocate.
Of the 158 new appointments, 104 are African, 23 are Coloured, eight are Indian and 23 are White. In terms of gender, 88 are female and 70 male.
"We have made significant progress in terms of transformation over the last two decades. At the dawn of democracy in 1994, magistrates were part of the public service and were employed by the then Departments of Justice in the various homelands, the TBVC States and the rest of South Africa," the Department of Justice and Correctional Services said in a statement.
An amalgamation process to bring them all under one department was led by the then Minister of Justice, the late Minister Dullah Omar. In 1998, there were a total of 284 female magistrates (18%) and 567 Black magistrates (37%) countrywide out of a total of 1 515 magistrates (including the regional, chief, senior magistrates and Regional Court Presidents).
The department says the new appointments show how far it has come in terms of gender and racial transformation, as there are now 695 African, 143 Indian, 176 Coloured and 388 White persons on the level of magistrate.
If one includes the regional, senior and chief magistrates, as well as the Regional Court Presidents, to get a view of the magistracy as a whole, 957 are African (50%), 204 are Indian (10.6%), 224 are Coloured (11.7%) and 528 are White (27.6%) out of a total of 1 913.
A total of 947 are women. This means that 72.3% of magistrates are Black and 49,5% are female.
In terms of the Regulations for Judicial Officers in the Lower Courts, 1993, all newly appointed magistrates must, before commencing with the functions of a judicial officer, attend a course by the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI).
It is envisaged that the course will take place during October 2021.