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By Getrude Makhafola

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JSC interviews: Dunstan Mlambo vows to ‘champion’ technology at courts

Judges have begun using an online court case management system following Mlambo's insistence that technology be used in courts.

Judge President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court Dunstan Mlambo has vowed to modernise the court system should he be appointed chief justice.

Mlambo was on Thursday interviewed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in Johannesburg.

He said when he started using Caselines, a digital court case management system, he managed to get five other judges into the fold.

“Usage of Caselines increased, and was accepted by all judges. If I am appointed, I will continue to champion the usage and embracing for technology. The key thing that ensures that management embraces technology is to have a champion. If I am appointed chief justice, I undertake to ensure that I champion modernisation in the judiciary, and not only championing it by talking, but by using it.”

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Mlambo added that with the judiciary being a custodian of old court records, the digitisation of files was urgent.

Judicial leaders were once told during a presentation by an official from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development that the department has court records that could fill five rugby stadiums, he told the commissioners.

“Some people laughed it off when it rained and flooded the Gauteng high court, affecting a lot of files and records. We don’t need to experience that hard take, we need to digitise those court files. Once you digitise them, they’re available at your fingerprints and you won’t need need physical space that you pay for to store those records.”

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His interest in bringing technology into courts saw him look into how Brazil modernised their court systems after visiting the country.

“When myself, [former chief justice] Mogoeng and [SCA President] Judge Maya visited Brazil, I took it upon myself to explore how they digitised their records… it took them a full two years. What they did was to approach entities responsible for taking care of people with disabilities and used those entities largely to digitise the entire Brazilian judiciary.”

The chief justice nominee described himself as a judge who is also a technocrat and an administrator.

“Modernisation is the way to go. I have sat in a number of court cases and I think I bring enough energy to make sure that these pillars of my vision go a long way into asserting the judiciary into its rightful place.”

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