SA to set up World Cup courts


JOHANNESBURG, May 24- South Africa on Monday opened more than 50 special courts dedicated to handling crimes committed during the World Cup, a justice ministry spokesman said."The intention is to avoid burdening our existing court rolls with the FIFA tournament cases," said spokesman Tlali Tlali.

With an expected 373,000 fans to visit during the four-week tournament, the government has spent about 45 million rands (4.7 million dollars, 4.6 million euros) for 56 special courts to operate in all nine host cities, he said.

"We appreciate and took into account the fact that this is a unique situation that attracts tourists from all over the globe and there could be challenges.

"We decided to put measures in place in order to have those cases that may be court-ready finalized as soon as it is possible and practical to do so," Tlali said.

The courts have the wide brief of trying anything regarded as a crime under South African law and have been set up because existing courts already face a huge backlog of cases, officials said.

Magistrates, foreign language interpreters, paralegals and other supporting staff will be employed at the courts, which will operate for 15 hours a day.

"There will be no leniency and no different standards will apply. Rules of engagement will be observed the same way as will be the case in other courts," said Tlali.

The courts will remain open for two more weeks after the tournament ends on July 11.

Crime remains one of the chief concerns in the run-up to the World Cup, with an average of 50 violent deaths every day in South Africa.

However government has assured locals and tourists that the tournament will be safe as 41,000 police officers will be deployed around the country during the World Cup.