Publication: Beeld Issued: Date: 2004-05-13 Reporter: Sonja Carstens

Court Documents 'Disappear'







Sonja Carstens

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Pretoria - Complaint sheets and tape recordings of hearings are stolen or mislaid at the office of the clerk of the Pretoria magistrate's court on a daily basis, chief prosecutor Matrix Luphondo said on Wednesday.

Recently court records of Brits magistrate Lucas Monageng had to be reconstructed after all tape recordings of the trial were stolen.

Monageng is appealing an eight-year prison sentence handed down by the Pretoria commercial court this week after he was found guilty on 11 charges of fraud and six of corruption. The charges were linked to traffic fines.

Tape recordings of the trial of former ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni had also disappeared, the Pretoria High Court heard on Wednesday.

Yengeni is appealing a sentence of five years imprisonment he received after misleading parliament about a luxury car.

Luphondo said: "It is an incredible problem because it causes delays in the processing of cases and appeals. The prosecutors have no control over it.

"I have suggested before that every court's stenographer store his or her own charge sheets, but this suggestion wasn't accepted. The prosecutors are too busy to take responsibility for storing charge sheets and tape recordings."

He said he requested an urgent meeting with other role players at the court to address the problem.

Staff members at the clerk of the court are employed by the department of justice. The department could not say on Wednesday what was being done about the matter.

With acknowledgements to Sonja Carstens and Beeld.