Amendments to Act will give more powers to new solicitor general: Masutha

31 October 2015 - 11:50 By Ahmed Areff, News24
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Advocate Michael Masutha. File photo
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Advocate Michael Masutha. File photo
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lisa Hnatowicz

There would be be further amendments to the State Attorney's Act in order to provide more power to the new office of the solicitor general, Justice Minister Michael Masutha announced.

According to a statement, this increased authority for the new position was so that the office could "champion the much needed transformation of the state attorney’s office".

Masutha requested that the department prepare the policy, and a plan for its implementation, which would be discussed at a colloquium later this year. 

"The department will engage with civil society and other organisations within the legal profession regarding the colloquium," justice spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said in the statement. 

Masutha has said previously that the solicitor general's powers would be equal to that of a judge. 

According to City Press, he said in May: "It will be his or her job to oversee the office of the state attorney. The office of the state attorney handles litigation on behalf of the state, but there isn’t a position equivalent to the heads of the National Prosecuting Authority or the Public Protector at this office."

BDLive reported at the time that the office would take over litigation by government departments and parastatals, and would ensure that work contracted out to lawyers and advocates in private practice was distributed equitably. 

Mhaga said on Friday that Masutha also mentioned in his speech at the annual general meeting of the Cape Law Society in Kimberley that the enactment of the Legal Practice Act was a milestone in the transformation of justice system. 

Part of the reforms in the Legal Practice Act was the requirement for the creation of provincial legal councils for each province. 

"These calls for the Cape Law Society to split.... to give effect to the provincial divide," Masutha said. 

"The establishment of the local seat of the High Court and construction of more courts is expected to increase the number of practitioners over time and address the unique challenge in the Northern Cape of vast landscape and thinly spread human settlements as a result of spatial injustices of the past."

Source: News24