De Lille leaves the Johannesburg High Court in the dark

Issued by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP – DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
16 Jan 2023 in News

The DA notes with grave concern the directive issued by Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland last Friday that the hearing of all matters in the Johannesburg High Court to be done by video link.

This directive, while clearly necessary, is due to the Office of the Chief Justice and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) failure to provide the Johannesburg High Court with a reliable generator capable of covering the sustained periods of load shedding experienced during the current indefinite stage 6 load shedding.

The failure of the DPWI to provide the Court with a reliable generator system will result in further court backlogs and a grossly inadequate service being provided to the public. It furthermore places an even greater strain on an already overstretched and underresourced court service.

It is particularly concerning that the Gauteng Division of the High Court is the busiest in South Africa, carrying an estimated 40% of the country’s caseload. Any reduction in capacity at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg places the effective functioning of the entire judicial system at risk.

Reports over the weekend stated that the Johannesburg High Court has two generators. However, the first one overheats when run for more than two hours, with the second backup generator being faulty.

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure failure to ensure our court system operates effectively during load shedding stands in stark contrast to the Department bending over backwards to ensure that the homes of Ministers are spared from the effects of load shedding. The Department spent R1.3 million in 2021 installing generators at Minister’s homes, with almost R1.4 million being spent to run these generators during 2022. Not only should Minister De Lille start taking her job seriously, but so should Minister Lamola and his Director General, who are chronically absent during these crises.

It is inexcusable that Ministers enjoy lives shielded from load shedding at the taxpayers’ expense while the Johannesburg High Court is left literally in the dark due to unreliable and poorly maintained generators. The DA implores the Department of Public Works to provide all our Courts with effective and functioning generators without delay.