The Interim Rationalisation of Jurisdiction of High Courts Act, 2001 (Act No 41 of 2001), has been passed to, among others, enable the Cabinet member responsible for the Administration of Justice, acting after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission to alter the area of jurisdiction for which a High Court has been established. The aim or the Act is to promote as a matter of urgency, the efficiency of and equity relating to the administration of justice throughout the whole of the Republic.

To give effect to the legislation, the Director-General: Justice and Constitutional Development, requested the Judges President of the various High Courts to take the initiative. Provincial teams were accordingly established. The teams comprised the respective Judges President, Directors of Public Prosecutions and Regional Heads of the Department. The task teams were guided by criteria such as access to justice, utilisation of resources constitutional imperatives, availability of resources, suitability of areas of jurisdiction, financial implications, and disparities in the old demarcation system.

2. In terms or section 2(1) of the Interim Rationalisation of Jurisdiction of High Courts-Act. 2001, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development needs to consult with the Judicial Service Commission.

3. Notices were already submitted to Parliament for approval in regard with those areas of which sufficient consensus has been reached. In the meantime further discussions with the various role-players continued in an attempt to generate as much consensus as possible in relation to other areas.

4. During March 2002, the Provincial Task Team for Eastern Cape made some headway in resolving the issues exist between the four High Court Divisions within the Eastern Cape Province. It could not, however, reach a consensus. During a meeting between the Heads of Court and the Minister in October 2002 it was agreed that Chief Justice Chaskalson should convene a meeting of judges In the Eastern Care to discuss the impasse. This was done and a meeting was held on 16 November 2002. The meeting was attended by the Judge President of the Eastern Cape Division, the acting Judge President of the Transkei Division and the Ciskei Division, other judges from the four courts and representatives of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Regional Office of the Department of Justice in East London.

After considerable discussion a consensus was ultimately reached between the judges of the four Divisions as to what would best serve the interest of the province as a whole. Chief Justice Chaskalson prepared a memorandum outlining the consensus that was reached during the meeting on 16 November 2002. From the memorandum it is clear that sufficient consensus has in fact been reached in relation to the jurisdictional areas of the Eastern Cane High Courts as well as on some other issues which do not fall within the ambit of the Interim Rationalisation of High Courts Act, 2001.

5. Since section 2 of the Interim Rationalisation of Jurisdiction of High Courts Act 2001, requires the Minister to consult with the Judicial Service Commission, the document, attached to Annexure "A", was placed before the Judicial Service Commission for consideration on 2 April 2003. The Judicial Service Commission, after discussing the matter, approved that the proposals as reflected in paragraphs 4(d), (e) and (f) of Annexure "A", be taken forward. In addition, the Heads of Court and the Judicial Service Commission approved, that the district of Maluti be included in the jurisdictional area of the High Courts of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, together with Umzimkhulu.

6. The Department took up the matter of referring to a district of Maluti with Acting Judge President Jafta from the Umtata High Court, as the Department was not able to trace any documentation or notices for a district of Maluti. Front the notices available it is clear that the district of Matatiele was decrease whilst the district of Mount Currie was increase with the land excised from the Matatiele district.

On 30 June 1972 the town Matatiele became part and parcel of the district of Mount Currie. However, the remaining land of the district of Matatiele was part of the previous Transkei. It appears as if the community within the district or Matatiele changed the name to Maluti to revent any confusion, as the town of Matatiele was no longer part of the district of Matatiele.

Acting Judge President Jafta was in agreement that the district Matatiele and the district Maluti referred to the proposal considered by the Judicial Service Commission on 2 April 2003, is one and the same area (district). Acting Judge President Jafta was further in agreement that the notices should reflect Matatiele in brackets Maluti.

7. Annexture "A" further reflects that Ezibeleni be excised from the Umtata High Court and be included in the area of jurisdiction of the Bisho High Court. However. Ezibeleni is a branch court of Lady Frere within the district of Cacadu (Glen Grey). The Department was not able to trace any notices prescribing that Ezibeleni has its own local limits of an area of jurisdiction in a district (Cacadu). Therefore, Ezibeleniís area of jurisdiction is the district of Cacadu.

Section 2(1)(a) of the Interim Rationalisation of Jurisdiction of High Courts Act, 2001 (Act no. 41 of 2001), provides that the area of jurisdiction for which a High Court has been established may be altered by including therein or excising therefrom any district or part thereof. This is only possible if the local limits within which such court shall have jurisdiction has been prescribed. Due to the fact that no local limits for Ezibeleni has been prescribed It will not be possible to excise it from the Umtata High Court, unless a point to point description or GIS-map is drawn up to reflect Ezibeleniís area of jurisdiction (local limits), which is a rime consuming process.

Due to the above the area of Ezibeleni Is not included in The notices altering the area of jurisdiction for which a High Court has been established.

Annexure "A", paragraph 4(f) refers to the district Sterkspruit. However, Starkspruit is the name of the place (office) within the district of Herschel. The notice has therefore been drawn-up to reflect Herschel in brackets Sterkspruit.

Notices have been prepared which reflect the recommendations agreed upon by the Judicial Service Commission.

In terms of section 2(2) of the Interim Rationalisation or Jurisdiction of High Courts Act, 2001 (Act No 41 of 2001), notices of this nature must be approved by Parliament before publication in the Gazette.

11. A draft notice (in English and Afrikaans is enclosed herewith for consideration by Parliament.