Justice & Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has approved a rescue plan for the Master’s Office, which has been plagued with backlogs and inefficient processes across the country.

The Mercury reports the Minister’s plan includes increasing the number of matters which must be finalised in four months from 65% to 80%.

Currently the annual plan has 65% as a target.

The rescue plan seeks to eliminate the backlog, decrease the number of customer complaints in the next four months, increase accessibility to services and increase communication with citizens and stakeholders.

Ministerial spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said to fulfil these obligations, the Minister has approved a rescue plan that will implement an interim strategy to improve digitisation and technology upgrades, human resource capacity, process standardisation, transparency and anti-corruption measures as well as promote public and legal community engagement. 

‘The Master’s Office must live up to its public obligation to handle deceased estates, liquidations, trust registrations, curatorship and the guardian in funds, in line with our collective commitment to justice,’ he said.

Phiri said the Master’s Office is ‘steadfast in its efforts to improve service delivery and turnaround times’, adding that an online deceased estates registration system was recently developed to address challenges clients are encountering when reporting a deceased estate case.

‘The deceased estate registration system enables members of the public to submit their deceased estate applications online, giving the users the ability to register an estate from the comfort of their homes or offices without the need to physically visit any Master’s Office or service point,’ he said.

According to Phiri, this system has been operational since 10 October at five offices, including Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria and Thohoyandou.

According to The Mercury, Phiri said the system would be implemented in all the other offices soon.

He added in an effort to broaden access to services, the Master’s Office has also made available information kiosks at service points for members of the public who may not have data to access the deceased estates online registration system.

‘The new system will contribute to queue reduction at our service points and improve on the turnaround times for resolution on the deceased estates matters,’ said Phiri.

Full report in The Mercury