How to deal with regular postponements that are commonplace and slow the wheels of criminal justice is explored in a News24 article, notes Legalbrief. Well-known Cape Town defence lawyer, William Booth, reportedly told News24 that while delays may have an impact on the accused financially, magistrates are sometimes able to refuse delaying cases and strike them off the court roll if investigations are taking long.

‘In whatever way we go, the magistrate or the presiding judge can have an investigation as to what is causing the delay and if he finds that it is caused by whatever party, he/she can make an appropriate order,’ he said.

Section 342A of the Criminal Procedure Act deals with steps that can be taken when court matters take long.

Booth, however, adds that this does not give any direction when it comes to costs. He told News24 that perhaps a costs order needs to be added as a form of sanction for any party (state/defence) that delays a case. That way, parties will know that if they are responsible for delays in matters, they will pay costs.

Booth adds that among myriad reasons for postponements is that many courts, especially lower courts, have many cases on their rolls. In some cases, the matters are not even supposed to end up in criminal courts.

Too many people are (being) arrested quickly and there are a lot of these cases that should not be dealt with in criminal courts, and that causes clogging of the system. Because there are so many cases per day in a court, that causes delays going to a trial and causes postponements…,’ he said.

Full News24 report