Backlog at Western Cape High Court has improved

Late judgments down from 13 in February to four in August

Photo of front of Western Cape High Court

The Western Cape High Court has reduced the number of late judgments. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

By Tessa Knight

29 August 2019

The backlog of overdue judgments at the Western Cape High Court has improved since GroundUp last reported on the matter earlier this year. In February, 13 judgments had been reserved for more than six months. In four cases, the judge had still not issued a ruling more than a year later. As of 22 August, only four judgments have been outstanding for more than six months.

According to the norms and standards for the judiciary laid out by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in 2014, judges are supposed to deliver judgment within three months of the last hearing. But according to judicial spokesperson Nathi Mncube this policy has changed. In an attempt to manage the backlog, judges now have six months to deliver judgment instead of three.

Three judges still have overdue cases according to a list of reserved judgments provided to GroundUp on 22 August.

Hearing Date



Case Number


Keith Engers

Keith Williams v Charl Smit



Keith Engers

Jacob De Wet Conradie & 1 Other



Siraj Desai

Sunrise Energy (Pty) Ltd v Avedia Energy (Pty) Ltd & 3 Others



Mokgoatji Dolamo

Hendrik Arnoldus Swanepoel v Luc Swanepoel


Acting Judge Keith Engers is the tardiest of the three, with two judgments overdue, one from 2017 and another from 2018. In February GroundUp reported that Engers was responsible for five of the 13 overdue judgments. In April Judge President John Hlophe stated that Engers had been reported to the Bar Council, and would not be invited back to act in the Division.

Judge Siraj Desai has one outstanding judgment, an improvement from April when he had three outstanding judgments totalling four years overdue. Desai was one of three judges reported to the Judicial Service Commission in April this year for late judgments.

Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo has one outstanding judgment but it is only a month past the six-month deadline.

It is important to note that the list of reserved judgments provided to GroundUp is based on an honour system. Although judges are expected to report their outstanding judgments to their judge presidents, there is no mechanism in place to make sure they do so. Judge Presidents are responsible for ensuring that reserved judgments are delivered on time, and the Chief Justice is responsible for ensuring Judge Presidents hold their judges to account.