Key findings Magistrates’ survey
In our survey of South Africa’s Magistrates’ perceptions of their working environment which was conducted through an online survey between the 20 September to 18 October 2019 we were presented with the following data…
Survey’s key findings
The Magistrates we surveyed were demographically broadly reflective of the total number of magistrates in South Africa and broadly reflective in terms of rank, even though some of the more senior positions (e.g. regional magistrate) are over-represented.
In the survey we examine in some detail the workload of magistrates in terms of civil and criminal work. We find that the magistrates doing civil work perceive their workload to be particularly high, and we suggest reasons for that finding.
Work pressure, insufficient renumeration and lack of support
We identify the kind of support that magistrates value, and measure the extent to which they receive such support. We find that they feel largely unsupported, and assess what kinds of support they feel would be most valuable. We also investigated the magistrates’ view that the physical infrastructure of the court building, their offices, as well as their safety and security are inadequate. Given the significant amount of perceived work pressure as well as inadequate support and issues around security, it is unsurprising that the majority of respondents experienced a great deal or a lot of stress, which takes a toll. Insufficient remuneration is a key concern for many magistrates.
Corruption in the magistracy
The issue of corruption also came under scrutiny, and we asked magistrates to evaluate corruption among different stakeholders in the justice system. We found that they perceive there to be high levels of corruption in the police, but also levels of corruption in the magistracy itself.
We identify six key areas where we recommend policy reform and further research, in the areas of workload and qualifications, stress, safety and security, infrastructure, remuneration, and corruption.