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Magistrate's court (South Africa)

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Magistrates' Courts of South Africa
Native names
  • 10 other official names:
  • die landdroshowe (Afrikaans)
  • amaKhotho waboMarhastrada (Southern Ndebele)
  • ziiNkundla zeeMantyi (Xhosa)
  • iziNkantolo Zomantshi (Zulu)
  • tiNkantolo taboMantj (Swazi)
  • Dikgorotsheko tša boMmaseterata (Northern Sotho)
  • Makgotla a Bomaseterata (Sotho)
  • Dikgotlatshekelo tsa boMagiseterata (Tswana)
  • Tikhoto ta Vamajisitarata (Tsonga)
  • Khothe dza ha Madzhisiṱaraṱa (Venda)
JurisdictionSouth Africa
Appeals toHigh Court of South Africa
WebsiteThe Judiciary - Magistrates’ Courts

The magistrates' courts are the lowest level of the court system in South Africa. They are the courts of first instance for most criminal cases except for the most serious crimes, and for civil cases where the value of the claim is below a fixed monetary limit.

Divisions and districts[edit]

South Africa is divided into magisterial districts, each of which is served by a district magistrate's court and in some cases also branch courts or periodical courts. Districts are grouped together into regional divisions served by a regional court, which hears more serious cases. At present there is one regional division established for each province, and the regional court sits at multiple locations throughout the province. As of 2010 there were 384 districts (and thus 384 district courts), 18 subdistricts with detached courts, 79 branch courts and 235 periodical courts. There were 1,914 magistrates including 351 regional court magistrates.[1]


Kempton Park Magistrate's Court

In criminal matters a district court has jurisdiction over all offences except treason, murder and rape, and a regional court has jurisdiction over all offences except treason. A district court can impose a fine of not more than R120,000 or a prison sentence of not more than three years, while a regional court can impose a fine of not more than R600,000 or a prison sentence of not more than 15 years, except that for certain offences a regional court can also impose a life sentence.[2] In civil matters a district court has jurisdiction where the value of the claim is R200,000 or less, while a regional court has jurisdiction where the value of the claim is between R200,000 and R400,000.[3] A regional court also has jurisdiction over divorce and related family law matters.

Cases in which no magistrate's court has jurisdiction must be brought before the High Court, which has the inherent jurisdiction to hear any case. The High Court also hears appeals from the magistrates' courts, and cases in which the constitutionality of any law or conduct of the President is brought into question.

List of magistrates' courts[edit]

The following towns are seats of magistracy, hosting a district magistrate's court or a detached court of a subdistrict.[4] Regional courts for criminal cases may sit at any of these locations, but regional courts for civil cases sit only at those highlighted in bold text.[5]

Eastern Cape[edit]

Free State[edit]





North West[edit]

Northern Cape[edit]

Western Cape[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About government - Justice system - Courts". Government of South Africa. Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  2. ^ "New Fines Imposed for Criminal Procedure Act". Sabinet Law. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  3. ^ "New Limits for Civil Actions in Magistrates' Courts". Sabinet Law. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Lower Courts List" (PDF). Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  5. ^ "Regional courts get powers to deal with civil cases" (PDF). Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2012.[permanent dead link]