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The High Court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday issued a warrant of arrest for the chief receptionist of a local prison, after she failed to appear and explain the reason for the late arrival of prisoners.
Judge Themba Sishi issued an order for her to appear after state advocate Dorian Paver lodged a complaint.
Paver said the woman was told on Wednesday that she had to explain to the court the reasons for the delays.
He said the receptionist knew about the order, but declined to attend, saying she was attending a social wellness meeting.
Paver said several judges and magistrates had complained that prisoners had been continually brought to court late.
Constable Philani Zondis, who drove prisoners to and from the courts, said he was often unable to deliver them at the right times because of delays at the prison reception area.
In the case being heard by Sishi, four defence attorneys – all paid for by the state – the judge and court officials had to wait each day for four prisoners to be transported from the prison.
The lost time in the case amounted to a full court day.
The four were brought to court early yesterday.
“Because we kicked up a fuss about the late arrivals yesterday, miraculously the four accused were at court by 9.20am today, because the captain at the regional court went to the prison to fetch them early,” Paver told the court.
The four were accused of shooting and killing a manager during a bank robbery.
They also faced five charges of unlawful possession of firearms, one of possession of a gun from which the serial numbers had been erased, one of unlawful possession of a fully automatic firearm, and a charge of the attempted murder of seven people.
The incident took place at a bank in Hluhluwe in May, 2011.
The four have pleaded not guilty to the charges. – Sapa