12/09/2006 22:57 - (SA)
Danel Blaauw, Die Volksblad
Kimberley - Thirteen people - among them two alleged rapists and an alleged robber - were freed when a magistrate refused point-blank to work after 16:00.
Magistrate K Padayachee scrapped 13 cases off the court roll on Monday and allowed the people in custody to go free.
An alleged rapist, sought since 2000, is apparently one of the people freed when the clock showed 16:00 .
Padayachee ruled that the 13 alleged criminals be freed when they hadn't appeared before her in court B (a transit court where first court appearances usually take place) by 16:00.
The alleged rapist, whom North West police have sought since 2000, is now a free man.
Had heard cases were scrapped
The others include a man accused of raping a 16-year-old girl, alleged stock thieves, an alleged robber and men accused of breaking into houses and cars.
The regional head of the Northern Cape justice department, Rodney Isaacs, confirmed on Tuesday he had heard of the incident.
He said the department knew of the incident and that various cases had been scrapped from the court roll.
Isaacs said: "I'm aware of the cases scrapped from the roll.
"The matter has been reported to the senior prosecutor and the director of public prosecutions.
"It definitely also will be reported to the magistrates' commission.
"It is seen in a very serious light."
A fuming prosecutor confirmed the incident and said the cases hadn't just been rolled over to the next day's court roll as happened occasionally.
They had been scrapped from the roll.
Had heavy case load
An informed source said Padayachee's roll had been full and she had had to handle two rolls on Monday.
She apparently refused point-blank to work later than 16:00. When the time arrived, she just packed up and left.
Apparently, previously she has refused to work later than the official court hours.
A source said another magistrate had had to step in to handle her cases on that occasion.