Courts of South Africa
This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
The courts of South Africa are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in South Africa. They apply the law of South Africa and are established under the Constitution of South Africa or under Acts of the Parliament of South Africa.
Despite South Africa's division into nine provinces, the country has a single national court system. The courts are funded and supported by the national Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The ordinary courts are the district and regional magistrates' courts, the provincial divisions of the High Court, and the Supreme Court of Appeal. The Constitutional Court is the highest court for constitutional matters.
Specialist courts have been established for various matters, including Divorce Courts, Labour Courts, the Land Claims Court, Special Income Tax Courts, and the Electoral Court. African customary law is administered by chiefs' and headmen's courts, subject to the Council of Traditional Leaders.
The Constitutional Court is the final court of appeals for all matters relating to the Constitution of South Africa, and its decisions are binding on all other courts in South Africa.The Constitutional Court has the exclusive power to invalidate as unconstitutional an Act of Parliament or a provincial legislature. (A High Court or the Supreme Court of Appeals may make an order of invalidity, but it does not come into effect until confirmed by the Constitutional Court.)
The Constitutional Court was established by the Interim (1993) Constitution and continued under the Final (1996) Constitution. The court has eleven judges; originally the chief judge was called the President of the Constitutional Court, but that title was changed to Chief Justice of South Africa by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. The Constitutional Court has its seat on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.
Supreme Court of Appeal
The Supreme Court of Appeal is the court of last resort in all except constitutional matters; it hears only appeals. The court sits in Bloemfontein; the chief judge is called the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal. It has its origin in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa, which was established by the South Africa Act at the formation of the Union of South Africa.
The High Courts are courts of general jurisdiction for their designated areas. They hear appeals from the Magistrates' Courts within their area, and act as a court of first instance for cases outside the jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Courts. The present divisions of the High Court are:
- Eastern Cape High Court, Bhisho
- Eastern Cape High Court, Grahamstown
- Eastern Cape High Court, Mthatha
- Eastern Cape High Court, Port Elizabeth
- Free State High Court, Bloemfontein
- KwaZulu-Natal High Court, Durban
- KwaZulu-Natal High Court, Pietermaritzburg
- Limpopo High Court, Thohoyandou
- North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria
- North West High Court, Mafikeng
- Northern Cape High Court, Kimberley
- South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg
- Western Cape High Court, Cape Town
The origins of the High Courts lie in the Supreme Courts of the four colonies (the Cape Colony, Transvaal Colony, Natal Colony and Orange River Colony) from which the Union of South Africa was formed; these became provincial divisions of the Supreme Court of South Africa. When the bantustans of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei received nominal independence, they established their own Supreme Courts; when the bantustans were re-integrated into South Africa on 27 April 1994 these courts also became provincial divisions of the Supreme Court of South Africa.
The 1996 Constitution renamed the provincial and local divisions of the Supreme Court to High Courts. Since that time some changes have been made to rationalise the areas of jurisdiction of the courts; the courts have also been renamed in accordance with the names of the new provinces. When the Superior Courts Bill is passed by parliament, the provinces with multiple courts will see them merged into a single division with multiple "seats", with the exception of Gauteng, in which the North and South divisions will be preserved. It is also expected that a new division will be created at Nelspruit for the province of Mpumalanga, which currently falls under the jurisdiction of the North Gauteng High Court.
The whole of the territory of South Africa is divided into approximately 350 magisterial districts, with each district having a District Magistrate's Court. These courts can hear civil cases where the value of the claim is no more than R100 000, and in criminal cases can impose a sentence of up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to R60 000. The magistrates districts are arranged into regions with each region having a Regional Magistrate's Court, which handles more serious criminal cases and cam impose a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to R300 000.
Other specialized courts
- Special Income Tax Courts
- Labour Courts and Labour Appeal Courts
- Divorce Courts
- Land Claims Courts
- The Water Tribunal
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Magistrates’ Courts
- Small Claims Courts
- Community Courts
- Equality Courts
- Child Justice Courts
- Maintenance Courts
- Sexual Offence's Courts
- Children's Courts
- Courts for Chiefs and Headmen
- "About Government - Justice System - Courts". South African Government Information. Government of South Africa. http://www.info.gov.za/aboutgovt/justice/courts.htm. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
- "South African criminal court system". Association of Commonwealth Criminal Lawyers. http://www.acclawyers.org/resources/south-africa/. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
High Courts of South Africa — South Africa This article is part of the series: Politics and government of South Africa … Wikipedia
Magistrates' Courts of South Africa — South Africa This article is part of the series: Politics and government of South Africa … Wikipedia
Magistrates Courts of South Africa — Magistrates Courts in South Africa are the lower courts and the courts of first instance and decide all matters as provided for by an act of parliament. As such, they deal with the great majority of court cases. The presiding officer in these… … Wikipedia
South Africa — Republic of, a country in S Africa; member of the Commonwealth of Nations until 1961. 42,327,458; 472,000 sq. mi. (1,222,480 sq. km). Capitals: Pretoria and Cape Town. Formerly, Union of South Africa. * * * South Africa Introduction South Africa… … Universalium
South Africa — This article is about the modern country. For other uses, see South Africa (disambiguation). Republic of South Africa … Wikipedia
South Africa — <p></p> <p></p> Introduction ::South Africa <p></p> Background: <p></p> Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice… … The World Factbook
South Africa under apartheid — Apartheid (meaning separateness in Afrikaans, cognate to English apart and ) was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government of South Africa between 1948 and 1990. Apartheid had its roots in the history of… … Wikipedia
Outline of South Africa — The Flag of South Africa … Wikipedia
Constitution of South Africa — South Africa This article is part of the series: Politics and government of South Africa … Wikipedia
Culture of South Africa — South Africa is known for its ethnic and cultural diversity. Therefore, there is no single culture of South Africa. Zulus in Natal … Wikipedia