The objective of SDC assistance is to provide support to the Department of Justice and South African Board for Sheriffs to implement the National Action Plan for the transformation of the sheriffs' profession (NAP). The role of the sheriff is inter alia to ensure execution of the decisions of the civil courts, in servicing processes, executing warrants and court orders, seizing assets and investigating maintenance pensions. The sheriff acts as the arm of the civil justice and is the direct and often only contact that the justice system has with the public.
The project aims at improving service delivery of the civil justice system. SDC has funded the NAP preparation phase, during which an extensive audit of the profession involving all key stakeholders was conducted. The audit confirmed that the profession is still plagued with inequalities in terms of race and gender and revealed that a number of legislative amendments need to be made to accelerate the transformation process. It also showed that the actual governing structures of the profession require changes and reinforcement. Finally it emphasised that any efficient transformation initiative would need to be backed by a strong communication strategy.
The NAP has been designed to address the historical imbalances of race, gender, class and geography of the profession. The NAP aims at re-dressing the historical imbalances over a period of ten years. The critical issue is to put in place mechanisms, which will achieve the necessary outcomes to ensure that the historical imbalances of race, gender, class and geography of the profession are addressed.
While targeting primarily the sheriffs, the deputy-sheriffs and the Board for Sheriffs a statutory body consisting of 12 members appointed by the Minister to supervise the profession, it will indirectly benefit to all South African interacting with the profession
Activities and Expected Results
Capacity building and training programmes will play a decisive role to ensure that disadvantaged communities are provided with the necessary skills and expertise to take up positions in the profession. Research and legislation reviews initiated under the first phase will be completed on the basis of which transformative measures will be adopted and implemented A communication strategy will be set in place to ensure that the awareness of the relevant stakeholders on the transformation process is adequately raised. The whole transformation process will be supported by a reinforcement of the Office of the Board.
The Ministry of Justice executes the project. The South African Board for Sheriffs has the overall responsibility for its implementation.
The preparation of the National Action Plan took place from November 2000 to July 2001. SDC will support the NAP implementation over a three-year period, up to August 2004.
SDC has funded the preparation of the NAP for a total amount of CHF 255'000. The support to its implementation will amount to CHF 2.8 million.
The Project is implemented nation-wide through the 424 Sheriffs offices in the country. The Office of the Board for Sheriffs is located in Cape Town.
South African Board for Sheriffs
Burleigh House 24 Barrack Street
P.O. Box 5454
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 461-2230
Fax: (021) 461-2233