Justice Dept to receive report on PTA court fires

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is to receive a report on the three fires at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court that occurred this week.

"We will receive a forensic report about the fires that broke out this week that will guide as to what to do next. It is, however, not the final document," said the department's Gauteng Regional Head, Emily Dlamini.

The department will receive the report at 2pm today.

Since the beginning of the week, three fires have broken out at the magistrate's court, located in Schoeman Street.

On Monday, 12 prisoners were trapped in the building for a short while after a fire broke out in the basement of the court.

They were rescued by emergency personal unharmed. On Tuesday, another fire broke out in courtroom 1. It started underneath the magistrate's chair and his bench and table were completely burnt out.

"Courtroom 1 and 2, which is adjacent to each other, were not operational because of the damages caused by the smoke," Dlamini told BuaNews.

The third fire started on Wednesday when a burning piece of paper was thrown through the window of a prosecutor's office. According to Dlamini, the paper landed on the prosecutor's desk, while bits of it also ended up on the carpet.

She said security at the court has been beefed up since the start of the fires.

"We looked at the security situation and added more personnel," said Dlamini, adding that with the exception of courtrooms 1 and 2 as well as the holding cells that were damaged in Monday's fire, the court was operational.