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The fire which destroyed part of the Polokwane Magistrate's Court would not affect the money-laundering case against expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, the department of justice said on Saturday.
“None of the police statements relating to that case were anywhere near that court,” said department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga.
“We are yet to complete an assessment of the damage in so far as court documents are concerned but people should not panic.”
The former ANC Youth League president appeared at the court on September 26 on a charge of money-laundering. He was released on bail and expected to return on November 30.
Mhaga said case files could easily be reconstructed in the event that they were destroyed in the fire.
Statements could be retaken and reports from hospitals or mortuaries could be regathered.
The same applied to partially heard cases.
“It is only in extreme cases where the presiding officer could order a retrial or, for the matter, start afresh,” he said.
Cases would be transferred to an unused court room at the Limpopo High Court as a temporary measure.
A meeting of all stakeholders, including public works, would take place over the weekend to discuss ways to ensure justice would not be compromised in any way.
Mhaga said they were still waiting for the forensic report on the actual cause of the fire and also an assessment of the damage.
“All I can confirm is that it started with smoke in one of the offices and quickly developed into a full blown fire,” Mhaga said.
“We hope and believe that the dispensing of justice will not be severely affected by this unfortunate incident.” - Sapa