Ronald Lamola Guptas

Minister Ronald Lamola. [Photo: GCIS]

Riots latest: Retired magistrates enlisted to speed up prosecutions

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has announced that new court directives will assist the judiciary to prosecute those guilty of wrongdoing.

Ronald Lamola Guptas

Minister Ronald Lamola. [Photo: GCIS]

When unrest and riots broke out in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and gauteng last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa insisted that part of the urgent measures that need to take place include the swift prosecution of all those arrested for looting and violence. 

With police having arrested over 2 200 people over the course of the week, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has announced that retired magistrates and prosecutors will be enlisted to ensure just that. 

New court directives issued for those arrested during riots

In a statement released on Saturday 17 July, Lamola said that newly gazette adjustments to court directives include several mechanisms that will assist courts in the arduous task of prosecuting those guilty of wrongdoing related to the riots. 

“The directions provide for, among other things, the postponement of cases through audiovisual links and the compilation of a priority roll at each court which will enable the courts to prioritise the hearing of priority cases which include gender-based violence and sexual offences, corruption cases, cases involving children and contravention of COVID-19 regulations,” said Lamola.

“It is important to highlight that the directions also include special measures that will apply in respect of cases that arise from public violence, public disorder and looting which were witnessed in KZN and Gauteng and have spread to other parts of the country.”

Retired magistrates called in  

Lamola said that among these measures is the compilation of a separate roll and designation of courts “to ensure speedy trial of these cases, where it is expedient and necessary”. This includes efforts to enlist the services of retired officials. 

“Where necessary, additional dedicated staff including from a pool of experienced retired magistrates and prosecutors, will be called upon in order to fast-track these cases where hundreds of arrests have already been effected.”

“The directions will enable our courts and the justice system to respond effectively and appropriately to deal with cases flowing from the recent unrest and public violence,” he said. 

“We are ensuring that nothing disrupts the processing of these matters and that the public can have trust in our criminal justice system.”