27 January 2020
The South African judiciary published a national report on reserved judgments across all South African courts, dated 30 September. The report shows that at the beginning of the fourth term of 2019 there were 103 reserved judgments outstanding for longer than six months and, overall, 683 reserved judgments outstanding.
A previous report by the judiciary shows that at the end of December 2018 there were 87 judgments reserved for longer than six months. This means that the number of reserved judgments outstanding for longer than six months has risen by 16 within the last year.
Judicial spokesperson, Nathi Mncube, explained that the list of reserved judgments is published at the end of each term, meaning that the latest reserved judgment report was published around 13 December.
The report states:“Judicial Officers have a choice to reserve judgments [with no date] where circumstances are such that the delivery of a judgment on a fixed date is not possible. The norms and standards state that the Judicial Officers should make every effort to hand down reserved judgments no later than three months after the date of the last hearing.”
The latest report also indicates that, at the time of publication, the Pretoria High Court division had the most reserved judgments with a total of 105; 31 of which have been outstanding for longer than six months. The Pretoria High Court had eight judgments outstanding for longer than six months at the end of December 2018, meaning that the number rose by 23 in about a year. The longest outstanding judgment dates back to 6 August 2018.
The Durban High Court had 16 judgments outstanding for longer than six months. The judgment which has been outstanding the longest dates back to 20 January 2015.
Judge Nomsa Khumalo of the Pretoria High Court has 13 reserved judgments that have been outstanding for longer than six months. Judge Nare Frans Kgomo from the Limpopo Division in Thohoyandou is not far behind with 12 reserved judgments outstanding for longer than six months.
GroundUp reported in April 2019 that judges Anton van Zyl, Siraj Desai, and Jacqueline Henriques had been reported to the Judicial Complaints Commission due to their high numbers of outstanding reserved judgments.
The Johannesburg Labour Court has the second highest number of outstanding reserved judgments at a total of 96 but only 13 of these have been outstanding for longer than six months.
The Cape High Court is listed as having no late judgments, but as we explain in another article, this is incorrect.
The information in this article is dependent on the accuracy of the report published on the Office of the Chief Justice’s website.