Covid-19: Thousands of lockdown contravention cases still open – Lamola

Ronald Lamola Minister of Justice and Correctional Services can be seen at GCIS during a press briefing , 16 December 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Most of those convicted failed to confine to residence during the lockdown period, he said.

Five months into the Covid-19 lockdown, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola says over 10,000 first appearance lockdown cases are still open and “postponed for a future date”.

At the same time, Lamola revealed that a total of 776 of the first appearance cases were withdrawn.

He was responding to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, who wanted details on the latest Covid-19 contraventions and cases.

“The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), in line with the modernisation approach, monitored the enrolment of all Covid-19 cases from the integrated electronic case management dataset.

“During the lockdown period up to 9 June 2020, the courts dealt with 18,355 first appearance cases related to Covid-19 contraventions, with 39,089 accused,” Lamola’s reply read.

A total of 12,354 cases are still open and postponed for a future date, Lamola said.

He added that further investigation is directed by the prosecutors to ensure the cases may be finalised.

“However, during the lockdown alert Level 5 (the period from 27 March to 30 April), a manual collation process of information pertaining to Covid-19 contraventions indicated that almost 25% of first appearance cases were not enrolled, due to insufficient evidence. These dockets were referred for decision and further investigation, where applicable.

“A total of 18,355 first appearance cases were enrolled. The integrated system only includes cases enrolled. Cases referred for decision are not yet electronically recorded, but this model is being developed. The data relating to decision dockets is, therefore, not yet available from the said integrated system,” Lamola said.

He also said the majority of Covid-19 related cases were enrolled in the district courts and only one percent was directly enrolled in the regional courts.

In another parliamentary reply, this time to DA MP Ockert Terblanche, Lamola said 1,572 people were convicted for contravening the lockdown regulations.

Most of those convicted failed to confine to residence during the lockdown period, he said.

For the period 26 March to 30 June, there were 24,092 cases on the roll and this included 46 812 accused.

Lamola said at Level 5, the courts imposed sentences on 910 people, of which 61 were given a prison sentence, 118 were cautioned and 141 were fined.

At Level 4, 519 people were sentenced. Most were given the option of a court fine, 24 were handed a prison sentence, 94 were fined and 58 were cautioned.

Only 71 sentences were imposed at Level 3 and these included 36 court fines and three prison sentences.

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