Lamola: It's been a challenging year for the justice department

Members of Parliament have been debating the justice and correctional services department's budget of R22.4 billion.

FILE: Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Dilapidated court buildings, the lack of critical court-recording equipment and mounting case backlogs have been highlighted in the National Assembly.

Members of Parliament have been debating the justice and correctional services department's budget of R22.4 billion.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola told the house it had been a challenging year, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a ransomware attack last September, but said the department had been able to recover.

Lamola said his department had to deal with unprecedented challenges over the past year.

"While responding to the unprecedented pressure of a global pandemic, we also had to contend with a debilitating ransomware attack in the past financial year. On the balance of these major challenges, we've been able to overcome," said the minister.

Justice portfolio committee chair Bulelani Magwanishe lamented the lack of maintenance at courts.

"We believe that greater attention should be given to maintaining infrastructure, which is in a terrible state," she said.

Magwanishe also raised worries about the rising number of case backlogs.

"We believe that additional resources are needed to prevent these from overwhelming our legal system."