Justice minister Ronald Lamola visits Johannesburg court after gang bust-up
The Department of Justice intensified security at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday following a scuffle between alleged Westbury gang rivals which saw the building briefly evacuated on Wednesday.
Alleged leaders of the Varados and Fast Guns gangs were involved in separate murder cases. Two men who came to court to support their leaders were involved in the fracas.
On Thursday, a TimesLIVE reporter counted more than six policemen at the court turnstiles and main entrance.
Newly elected justice minister Ronald Lamola visited the court on Thursday morning to conduct an inspection and called for a conclusive report on safety at the court.
"This security breach goes to the core of the court administration system. We expect the courts to be the custodians of justice and a safe place for our citizens. This breach of security warrants a conclusive assessment of the security measures in all our courts," Lamola said.
"Our courts are not war zones and weapons have no place here. To this end, our courts must be declared gun-free zones", he said.
Lamola also vowed that court officials will ensure that cases which involve rival gangs are not scheduled at the same time, confirmed his spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri.
The justice minister, according to Phiri, also requested the department to provide him with a conclusive report on the safety of courts across the country.
"It is a concern to the NPA if the safety of the public members is threatened and we also know that our colleagues from the department of justice will swiftly deal with it," said NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane.
In Westbury overnight, additional metro police department officials were deployed to maintain order.
Ten extra patrol cars and 30 extra police officers were deployed to the area, said MMC for public safety Michael Sun. He tweeted: "We will not tolerate thugs running our streets and putting lives in danger."