FOR the first time in South Africa's judicial history, magistrates will go on strike today, bringing justice to a near halt.
Throughout South Africa, judicial officers in the country's lower courts will postpone criminal and civil cases that appear before them.
The first phase of the magistrates' strike over a salary increase dispute will begin today and is expected to intensify by next week.
Two years ago magistrates threatened to embark on a similar action, but decided against it.
"It is like a game of chess. We are now waiting for the next move. We are giving them [the justice ministry] a week to reconsider their offer before we intensify our strike, which could bring courts to a standstill," Judicial Officers Association of SA president Nazeem Joemath said yesterday.
But justice ministerial spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the impact of the strike would be lost with the appointment of acting magistrates.
Last week, parliament approved a 5.5% salary adjustment for 1912 magistrates, despite the threat of strike action in protest against the "minimal" raise. – Nivashni Nair