Pretoria: Although significant strides have been made to transform the sheriff’s profession in the country, more still needs to be done to make it attractive to women, says the newly appointed Justice Deputy Minister John Jeffery.
Not only must women make inroads in the operational field of sheriffs, Jeffery said, they must also be represented in the governance structures of the profession, both on the board and national association.
“While there is still a long way to go, the appointments have gone a substantial way to making the profession more representative, in line with the transformative vision and goals of our Constitution,” Jeffery said at the induction of 71 recently appointed sheriffs in Pretoria on Monday.
In July, the department appointed 71 sheriffs. Of these, 47 are African, 11 white, 6 coloured and seven Indian. Women represented 18 of the new appointees, while 53 were men.
The new appointments take the total number of permanent sheriffs, currently operating in the country, from 298 to 365.
Before 1994, there were 465 sheriffs operating nationally. Of these, 22 (4.73%) were women and 443 (95.27%) were men. The racial demographics of these 465 sheriffs were: 414 whites (89.03%); 44 Africans (9.46%); five coloureds (1.08%) and two were Indians (0.43%).
Jeffery says the new appointments will go a long way in addressing the past discriminatory practice.
During the apartheid dispensation, he said, appointments to the large and financially lucrative offices of sheriffs were exclusively the domain of white males.
The deputy minister used his address to also highlight the work of the sheriffs and appealed to them to execute their duties mindful of and sensitive to the environment and with respect, dignity, compassion, diligence and without fear or favour.
Jeffery said the sheriff’s role was much more than of the so-called “messenger”, whose responsibility was to deliver documents.
“The contents of the summons, judgement or execution order should be explained to the judgement debtor or the person on whom it is served, together with his/her responsibilities and rights.”
The new sheriffs, Jeffery added, had an important role to play in the strengthening and transformation, and enhancing access to the criminal justice system.