Durban Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban and branch courts accounted for 256 enrolled court cases during July civil unrest

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Nov 22, 2021

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DURBAN - While the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) National Investigative Hearing into the July unrest enters in its second week, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola has responded to a parliamentary written question about what steps his department has taken to safeguard human rights.

More specifically, IFP’s Professor Christian Msimang’s question was in reference to observing the Constitutional rights of an accused person to be brought before a competent court within specific timelines under the Criminal Procedure Act, Act 51 of 1977.

Lamola said that during the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the Bill of Rights was observed. The magistrates in which the civil unrest cases occurred processed all matters brought before the court, in line with the Constitution.

Lamola said 873 cases were reported and enrolled.

Durban and branch courts accounted for most of the cases, 256, followed by Verulam (including branch courts) with 100, and Ixopo with 68. The rest of the courts had fewer than 40.

Sawoti, Mtunzini and Paulpietersburg courts had one case each.

“The JCPS Steering Committee was established, in which the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development participates. The above-mentioned steering committee includes key stakeholders such as the South African Police Service, Legal Aid South Africa and National Prosecuting Authority. The mandate of this steering committee was to ensure that all cases are processed promptly and in observance of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution,” Lamola said.

Lamola also responded to a question about what safeguards his department put in place to ensure that courts provided access to persons who were deprived of their legitimate property, where they could have an opportunity to ensure their legitimate rights to their property was upheld through a court of law.

“There was no record of any confiscation of property which was discussed by the Integrated Task Team which was established to monitor the civil unrest. This does not exclude the possibility that if such information could have been reported to various police stations, the matter will be placed on the agenda of the Integrated Task Team, and should it emerge of any confiscated property during unrest, an appropriate solution will be discussed by the relevant law enforcement agencies,” Lamola said.

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