South Africa establish additional commercial crimes courts to fight corruption

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has established two more specialised commercial crimes courts in Mthatha and East London in the Eastern Cape to bolster efforts to fight against corruption. Two more specialised commercial courts in Palm Ridge and Pretoria North in Gauteng, were also enhanced.
These courts are in line with the commitment made by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the National Council of Provinces when he responded to questions pertaining to Covid-19 corruption/procurement irregularities. President Ramaphosa said the following:
“The rise in serious commercial crimes and incidents of COVID-19 corruption has meant that we are fast-tracking the establishment of additional commercial crimes courts and also increasing the capacity of existing ones.
“We are looking to establish additional Special Commercial Crimes Courts in Polokwane, Mbombela, Mahikeng, Mthatha, and Mangaung.”
Following this pronouncement by the president, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, directed that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development coordinate and facilitate the establishment of the new Special Commercial Crime Courts to give effect to the commitment made by the President.
To date, Special Commercial Crime Courts (“SCCCs”) have been established in provinces where such courts did not exist before, namely, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, and North West.
Minister Lamola oversaw a Special Commercial Crimes Court Project Plan, which provided for a two-phased approach in establishing and enhancing existing SCCCs.
The first phase which entailed the establishment of new SCCCs in the provinces where there were none was scheduled for implementation during the 2020 / 2021 financial year. The second phase, which entailed the enhancement of existing SCCCs in all other provinces, was scheduled to commence in April 2021.
Phase one was successfully implemented with the establishment of new SCCCs in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, and North West. All provinces in the Republic now have dedicated SCCCs.
Much success has been derived from the existing SCCC model which allows for close integration of the work between prosecutors and investigators and dedicated courts which can, once matters are enrolled, process them speedily and effectively instead of matters having to await space on the open court roll.
To date, the SCCU Clusters achieved an overall of 92% convictions for all cases finalized with a verdict.
The new SCCCs in East London and Mthatha commenced operations on 6 April 2021 while the Pietermaritzburg court commenced operations on 3 January 2022.
“When one looks at the number of matters heard and the conviction rate to date, it is clear that Specialised Commercial Crimes Court is a crucial mechanism to ensure that complex commercial crimes which often extend to corruption and white-collar crime are prosecuted effectively in dedicated courts”, said Minister Lamola.
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