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Appointment of new sheriffs by Mr John Jeffery, MP, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development

Justice Deputy Minister appoints new persons as sheriffs to fill vacant offices countrywide

Sheriffs play an extremely important role in the justice system as they serve court processes and execute warrants and orders of court. It is therefore important that the sheriffs' profession is a transformed and professional one. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ and CD) continues to make significant progress in the transformation of the sheriffs' profession.

The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery, has appointed 24 new sheriffs to fill vacant offices countrywide.

The appointments followed an open process whereby the posts were advertised and successful applicants were shortlisted and interviewed by an Advisory Committee which was established in each of the nine provinces. Advisory Committees are chaired by senior judicial officers and make recommendations to the Deputy Minister regarding fit and proper persons to be considered for appointment.

Twenty four persons have been appointed. Some of the applicants are appointed to more than one vacant office after considering various aspects such as the economic viability of an office, distance between offices, the rationalisation of magisterial districts and other relevant factors.

As at the end of February 2019, there were 254 sheriffs operating nationally of these 31% were female and 69% male. The racial demographics were: 43,3% African; 36,2% White; 11,8% Coloured, and 8,6% Indian. The newly appointed sheriffs enhance transformation of the profession as they reflect the demographics of the country in respect of race and gender.

Of the newly appointed sheriffs, 18 are African, 2 are White, 2 are Coloured and 2 are Indian. Ten are men and 14 are women. Some of the newly appointed sheriffs are already holding office as sheriff in other smaller areas and will therefore not affect the demographics in terms of race and gender.

Unfortunately 10 of the vacant offices could not be filled as either no applications were received or the Advisory Committees were not able to recommend fit and proper applicants, as the case may be. This often occurs in small offices which are not economically viable and the Advisory Committees would therefore either recommend that the vacant offices be re-advertised, be re-described in terms of the service area and be allocated to an adjacent sheriff, or that the sheriff's office for the high and lower court be merged.

The majority of the new appointments will take effect from 1 August 2019 so as to enable the incumbent sheriffs to set up office, to employ personnel, to attend the compulsory prescribed training courses and to ensure a smooth handover of court documents.

Some communities were being serviced either by acting or ad hoc sheriffs, based in nearby towns, therefore the filling of these vacant offices will go a long way in ensuring that court and sheriffs' services are more accessible to the communities which they are to serve.

It is important that sheriffs perform their duties in a professional manner and continue to provide a reliable and effective serve to the public, the legal profession and other role players in the justice system.

Source: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

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