Temporary plans outlined for Polokwane court

Polokwane - Deputy Minister of Justice Andries Nel has assured Polokwane residents that legal documents, which were damaged in a fire at the Polokwane Magistrate's Court in Limpopo, will be reconstructed and that no suspects will go free without standing trial.

The court building was gutted by a fire on Friday.

Nel, who visited the court on Wednesday, said unused rooms in the High Court will be used for the magistrate's court to proceed with cases. Other cases would be heard in the Seshego and Mankweng Magistrate's Courts.

"We have also resolved that mobile courts are going to be used and they are going to be close to where the crimes took place," said Nel.

During the visit, Nel met with court officials, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Public Works to assess the damage from the fire.

The visit was also aimed at finding a way forward in terms of the reconstruction of damaged court documents.

"We would like to assure the public that all the cases that were contained in the files that were damaged will be reconstructed and placed back in courts so that justice can take place," said Nel.

The ministerial delegation had received information that all documents in all the courts, except for the regional court, had been destroyed.

The Department of Public Works is looking into the reconstruction of the damaged building, but this might take four to five years. "We found that the fire destroyed the whole building," said Nel.

Public Works has been tasked with drawing up a medium intervention plan. "As for medium intervention, the Public Works Department is going to lease a building in the city so that justice takes place until the rebuilding of the court is finished," said Nel.

Nel said police were still investigating the cause of the fire.

"We are not sure what started the fire. Police are still investigating and those results are expected to be available in three weeks. But preliminary findings suggest that the fire started in an office and proceeded to destroy the whole court building," said Nel.

He said people from the court were evacuated safely by court officials and security during the fire. - SAnews.gov.za