Justice department appoints 32 sheriffs to increase access to justice services

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development continues to make significant progress in the transformation of the Sheriff's profession. On 13 January 2016, the Department appointed 32 Sheriffs to fill vacant posts countrywide. The filling of these vacancies will contribute to both access to justice and improved service delivery in our justice system. Sheriffs are an important interface between the public and the justice system. They interact with and influence the work of lawyers, court officials, the police, the judgment creditors and debtors.

Speaking at the start of the Induction Training Programme today, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery said "Sheriffs play an important role in the criminal justice system as they serve court processes and execute warrants and orders of the court which are issued in terms of the Act and the regulations of the different Courts. Whilst there is still a long way to go, these appointments have gone a substantial way to making the Sheriff's profession more representative, in line with the transformative vision and goals of our Constitution".

The appointed Sheriffs reflect the demographics of the country in respect of race and gender as envisaged in the Constitution. Of the 32 Sheriffs 19 are African (59%), 8 are White (25%), 4 are Coloured (13%) and 1 is Indian (3%). A considerate number of women is increasingly being appointed with the intention to close the gender gap. Among the new appointees, women represent 41% of the new appointees and men 59%.

The Deputy Minister further said "the department is determined to close the gender gap in the Sheriffs' profession and further enhance the economic empowerment of women. Women now represent 83 (27%) of the total sheriffs and men 221 (73%). I'm pleased that of the 13 women that have been appointed as Sheriffs, 5 have been appointed to medium and large sheriff offices".

The total number of permanent Sheriffs currently operating in the country is 304. Of these 304 Sheriffs, 124 are Africans (41%), 121 are Whites (40%), 22 are Indians (7%) and 37 are Coloured (12%). This has resulted in a 1% increase of black persons (Africans, Indians and Coloureds) represented in the profession.

"The Department has committed itself to assist in the consistent improvement of, and enhanced service delivery, by the sheriffs' profession. We continue to work hard in order to ensure that justice is accessible to all." Deputy Minister Jeffery said.

The Deputy Minister thanked the Board members, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson for their contributions in ensuring that the justice system functions efficiently. He further congratulated the new incumbents on their appointment and wished them a fruitful term in office as they commence their duties on 1 March 2016.