488. Mr Z Mlenzana (COPE-EC) to ask the Minister of Justice and
(1) Whether the Integrated Justice System 2000 Plus Strategy has enabled his department to modernise the functioning of the courts in order to (a) allow for more extensive use of technology, (b) promote (I) efficient and (ii) effective case management, (c) allow easier public access to court information and (d) provide value-added services; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) whether his department has experienced any technological or systematic delays; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?
I would like to inform the Honourable Member that the Department has made important strides in developing technology solutions to ensure improved efficiency and effectiveness in our courts as part of the implementation of the Integrated Justice System (IJS) Strategy. The
Department, through the IJS Board, has also been involved within the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster in promoting technology as an enabler and to help integrate information communication technology (ICT) across the Cluster. The JCPS Cluster is not satisfied with the speed at which the ICT integration across the Cluster Departments is taking place. As a result, the JCPS Cluster has reviewed the prioritisation of integration activities which are dealt with through
the IJS Board. Consequently, the IJS Board is being strengthened to fast track integration and modernisation efforts.
(1) Yes, my Department was able to modernise the functioning of the courts by using information and communications technology as an enabler.
(1)(a)More extensive use of technology was made possible by the successful development and national roll out of the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS). The ICMS features various modules which support the automation of core business processes such as case registration and management of cases through the lifecycle. This solution makes provision for the registration of the criminal case and the case outcome (postponement, withdrawals, conviction etc). It also
features an automated court roll, document scanning, electronic National Register of Sex Offenders and management reports. Other processes that have been automated include the Masters, Civil and Small Claims. Audio-Visual postponing of cases is also now a reality in courts and prisons throughout the country. The Audio-Visual Remand system has been deployed at 47 courts and 22 Correctional Centers nationally.
(b)(i) The modernisation initiatives above have improved efficiency in the administration of our courts in that case information and court records can be obtained much quicker by using an electronic reference system to search for court case information, including physical documents digitised through a scanning process.
(b)(ii) The transition from manual processes to electronic processes has, to a large extent, improved the overall effectiveness of case management processes. The system generated information reports enables court managers to be pro-active and ensure that all necessary documents are available before the next court date.
(c) The automation of these processes has enabled the courts to render a speedier service to the public when dealing with queries. By simply entering the case number on the system, court clerks can retrieve information within seconds as there is no need to find hardcopies of files to be able to respond to a query. The Integrated Case Management System also makes it possible for court managers to indicate to the public in which cases their cases will be dealt with.
(d) Value-added services include the introduction of the Justice Deposit Account System (JDAS) functionality with electronic and internet banking facilities whereby bail and maintenance monies can be paid and received at any court regardless of where the case was registered.
(2) The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is not immune to complexities and delays associated with technology development projects. Most of the delays which occur relates to replacement or acquisition of technical skills. Salary scales of Government makes it difficult to attract the specialised IT skills required, in particular IT Architects and Systems Integrators and as
well as Project Management Skills. Another cause of delays is the procurement processes or tender processes relating to procurement of IT services. We are, however, continuously monitoring and managing the impact of any delays and seeking ways to prevent delays as well as fast track the speedy implementation of ICT solutions and in particular integration across the criminal justice value chain.