Derek Alberts
4 minute read
21 Jan 2008

Too many cases on the court roll-Take a break

Derek Alberts

For some time now, concern has been raised about the problems at the high court in the city. Recent media reports highlighted the tip of the proverbial iceberg, which appears to go way deeper than inconvenient delays and the adjournment of cases.

For some time now, concern has been raised about the problems at the high court in the city. Recent media reports highlighted the tip of the proverbial iceberg, which appears to go way deeper than inconvenient delays and the adjournment of cases.

Word from unhappy members of the legal fraternity suggests that things evidently are veering out of control and that taxpayers apparently are footing a bill that they should not be, all because of alleged institutionalised inefficiency in the various state structures.

Consider the facts: one day in the recent past, 59 matters were set down on the roll in the high court. Two were struck off on account of there being no appearance for the applicant, two were divorces, and four dealt with miscellaneous matters. The remaining 51 were all claims relating to unpaid pensions, typically on behalf of beneficiaries who are going the court route to have their money paid over.

The sheer volume of these applications means that other matters are being crowded out, much to the irritation of lawyers. Then there is the matter of costs, as a concerned attorney pointed out.

“If rumour is to be believed, the State always defends these welfare applications and always loses, so always winds up with a costs order against it.”

It will be interesting to know just how much this court alone has made in costs orders. However, using the average cost of R3 500 for a case of this sort, the 51 pension applications would have cost the State, or taxpayer, a cool R178 500, and that on one day!

Complete the circle and the whole situation assumes an air of the surreal. The pay-out of pensions is the responsibility of the department of Welfare. This duty is shirked and prompts a disgruntled claimant to seek redress in the court. The application is than opposed by the state, which the state generally loses when the department of Justice rules that the pension must be paid out, with the costs for the application.

This waste reportedly got under the cloak of a well-known judge who ruled that a minister of Welfare should be held personally liable for the unnecessary costs incurred. Whether this was ever carried through, we don’t know. But we do know that a great and costly injustice is being perpetuated.

More daylight

Daylight savings time (DST) is of obvious benefit to people living on the east coast — why while away two or three hours of daylight just because the sun rises earlier than elsewhere in South Africa?

Imagine getting going an hour earlier in summer and being able to capitalise on the extra light in the evening? All it takes is turning the clocks forward by one hour during the long summer days.

The curse of load shedding may just advance the DST cause though, as joint CEO of Gidon Novick said.

“Peak demand typically occurs during the early hours of the evening when most people are returning from work and using lights, cooking and bathing at home. DST would extend our evening light by an hour and significantly reduce the demand for electricity during this time.”

The idea of DST has won over 30 000 customers and a host of big corporations, including FNB.

Let there be light

The forces of darkness no longer hold any fears for the intrepid lot at Austen Smith. Mindful of the perils of load shedding, the powers that be installed a generator that throbs into life whenever the city’s power loses its spark.

The generator has become a bit of a talking point, and rumour has it that it will feature in a walking tour of the historic premises.

Safe cell

Cellphone users are urged to record the 15-digit code that appears on your screen when you key in *#06#. Have this code handy in the case of your phone being stolen, and contact your service provider with this code.

This enables them to block your handset, rendering it useless, even if a new Sim card is being used.

Credit card scam

A new credit card scam winkles out the three-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Very smooth and slick, the scammers come across as highly convincing as they are actually reading your card information to you!

Unless you’re making an Internet purchase, don’t give out this number, or any other numbers for that matter.

If in doubt, call your service provider.

SPCA plight

Word has it that some SPCA branches are in financial distress and are under threat. Part of the problem is that the organisation is not eligible for funding by Lotto because Lotto apparently maintain that “animal welfare is not a charity”.

Strangely, a third of the Lotto proceeds go to sport development that already has access to state funding, over and above income generating schemes such as fees, gate fees and corporate sponsorships.

Interested people willing to sign a petition can contact Chanel Rowan at