Beefed up courts tackle mine violence

18 September 2013

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe has beefed up local court capacity to speed up the hearing of cases related to violence on the mines in South Africa’s North West province.

Radebe has annexed the magisterial districts of Brits, Mankwe and Rustenburg to the Bafokeng magisterial districts to deal with such cases until the backlog has normalised in the province, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development said this week.

Department spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said this was a temporary measure aimed purely at beefing up the Bafokeng Magistrate’s Court with additional magistrate prosecutors and court staff to speed up the hearing of cases emanating from the mines.

This was in line with the Case Backlog Project initiated by the ministry in 2006 to deal with case backlogs nationally.

The surge of labour unrest and related violence on the country’s platinum mines since August last year has also prompted the government to rethink some of its laws. The Dangerous Weapons Bill, which prohibits the carrying of weapons such as knobkerries and spears in public, was recently signed into law.

The government, police and mining stakeholders have also launched a mine crime combating forum to tackle unrest and restore calm in South Africa’s mining sector.

The forum, which will be set up first in Rustenburg, Klerksdorp and Brits in North West province, will put extra capacity in place in the form of detectives and specialist prosecution teams to prosecute cases of intimidation, assault and murder on the mines.

It will also prioritise the investigation and finalisation of cases arising from lawlessness in the appropriate, designated courts, as well as oversee the enforcement of municipal by-laws related to gatherings and demonstrations.

While tackling unrest in the industry, the forum will also serve as a platform for information sharing, which it is hoped will lead to improved communication and less unprotected industrial action.