South Africa - Judicial system

South Africa has a unified judicial system. The Supreme Court has a supreme appellate division and provincial and local divisions with both original and appellate jurisdictions. The Court of Appeals, with its seat in Bloemfontein, the judicial capital, normally consists of the chief justice and a variable number of appellate judges. Special superior courts may be constituted to try security cases, and there were, in 1986, 309 magistrates' offices vested with certain judicial as well as administrative powers. Judges are appointed by the state president. There were no nonwhite judges as of 1987.

The common law of the Republic of South Africa is Roman-Dutch law, which has evolved from the uncodified law of the Netherlands as it existed when the Cape of Good Hope was ceded to Great Britain. It has been influenced by English common law in procedures more than in substantive matters. Trial by jury was abolished in 1969.

Black tribal chiefs and headmen have limited jurisdiction to hear cases in traditional courts. There are appeals courts, divorce courts, and children's courts for blacks. In self-governing black homelands, lower courts have been established by the legislative assemblies.

The judiciary has moved in the direction of more independence from the other branches with instances of alleged political interference with courts on the decline. Prospects have considerably improved for nonwhite law school graduates to receive "Articles of Clerkship" which qualify them for admission to the bar.

A new constitution went into effect partially in February 1997, with complete implementation scheduled for 1999. The 1994 interim constitution provided for an independent judiciary and the authorities respect this provision in practice. There is also a constitutional court as highest court for constitutional issues. It provides for due process, including the right to a fair, public trail, legal counsel, and the right to appeal.

User Contributions:

Thato Magagula
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 14, 2011 @ 5:05 am
Why isn't the South African justice system not firm enough for people to fear offending their societies, instead, previous offenders re-offend because prisons have now become holiday resorts for criminals, drug kingpins get away with everything because money lets them get away scott-free without prosecution and lastly, the police force isn't actually enforcing the law, they have become very lazy, because with a huge belly, how on earth are you going chase and make sure you catch the criminal and don't let him outrun you. As long as all of this is still happening, crime will still increase and people will still do as they please and the society will only be forced to take matters in their own hands if the government and the judiciary isn't doing anything about this. I say that the government and the judiciary need get back to their drawing board and re-do the law properly and let the society decide what's best for our country because it is only up to us to better our living conditions in this country and maybe no any Tom, Dick and Harry will then do as they please and get away with it because every mischievious thing is done here and nowhere else because we let everything slide. We want our children to grow up in a safe and secure environment.
mELODY Mastrangel0
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 1, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
Hi my name is Melody Mastrangelo,

I am a year 11 student at Nazareth Catholic college. I am currently completing a legal studies assignment subjected to the jury system in South Australia.
The topic question is 'the jury system is/is not an effective trial system in South Australia'. It would be greatly appreciated if I could recieve a response regarding the topic and views you have on it.

Thankyou, Melody.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: