High-tech courts to cut down time, costs

8 June 2011

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe has unveiled an efficient, time and cost saving state-of-the-art system for the trial of detainees.

Dubbed the Audio Visual Remand system, the technology driven mechanism allows detainees to be tried while at correctional centres, through a video link to corresponding courts handling their cases.

Radebe unveiled the system at the Mitchells Plain Magistrates Court outside Cape Town on Monday morning, at an event attended by several high ranking from the justice cluster.

Established with an investment of R13-million for its installation, the system is set to be rolled out in 47 courts and 21 correctional centres across the country.

Fundamental, transformative changes

Radebe said the system was for those accused aged above 18, had appeared in court before and were remanded in custody pending trial. The system will also be used by witnesses abroad, cutting down on travel costs and time.

The system, he said, came after Cabinet approved a package of seven “fundamental and far reaching transformative changes”, called the Criminal Justice System Seven-Point Plain in 2007.

The plan had to be implemented in an “integrated and holistic manner to achieve a new, dynamic, coordinated and transformed Criminal Justice System”.

According to the department, the development of the system was necessitated by an increasing number of awaiting trial detainees transported daily from correctional centres to various courts.

Reduced security risk

The Department said that many of the detainees transported to court went there merely for a postponement of their case, either for further investigation, legal representation or other administrative reasons. It added that transportation was also establishing routes for smuggling drugs and weapons, and also prisoner escapes.

The cited benefits of the system include reduced number of persons at magistrates’ courts at a given time, reduced security risk in a court environment and reduced transportation and costs.

The department said the system would also reduce the number of people to be guarded at holding cells, and this means fewer people to be coordinated by court orderlies.

Source: BuaNews