Swift justice for World Cup criminals

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pretoria - South African courts will extend operation hours during the FIFA World Cup to avoid possible backlogs, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development said on Wednesday.

Each court will be allocated two magistrates, two prosecutors and clerks, with the first team working from 8.30am to 4.30pm and the second one working from 4.30pm to 11.30pm.

In addition, 1 140 court officials, 35 para-legals, 93 foreign language interpreters and legal aid lawyers will be deployed to all earmarked courts.

Department spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the beefed up courts would ensure that existing court rolls are not overburdened with cases related to the tournament.

"We appreciate and took into account the fact this is a unique situation that attracts tourists from all over the globe and there could be challenges. We decided to put measures in place in order to have those cases that may be court-ready finalised as soon as it is possible and practical to do so," Tlali said.

Tlali said there would not be any mobile courts set up at the stadia, instead existing physical infrastructure.

There will be 54 dedicated courts, 34 district and 20 regional courts, across all nine provinces, and in particular in all the host cities.

Per province, Gauteng was allocated the most courts, with 14 district and eight regional, while the Western Cape would have only two regional courts.

The courts will be operational two weeks preceding the tournament and will run for a further week after the tournament has ended.

These efforts form part of the FIFA 2010 Administration of Justice Blue Print project which comes with the price tag of about R45 million.

The Blue Print was preceded by interaction and consultation with various stakeholders, both locally and internationally, said Tlali.

"Any individual whose conduct will be at variance with the law will be dealt with by the agencies of the State in accordance with the laws of the Republic and the Constitution," he said.