Courts handle 21 World Cup cases

THE number of criminal cases heard in World Cup special courts across the country rose to 21 over the weekend, with some being finalised during the same period.

THE number of criminal cases heard in World Cup special courts across the country rose to 21 over the weekend, with some being finalised during the same period.

The National Prosecuting Authority said yesterday most of the cases involved foreigners (13) compared to eight involving South Africans.

At least 140 lawyers have been deployed around the country to deal with World Cup cases.

Today, a Pretoria man named Johan Nel is due to be sentenced in one of the courts for defrauding a US citizen and a guesthouse owner. He was arrested on Saturday and the case was heard on the same day.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said Nel had lured Joseph McMaham, a US soccer fan, by pretending to own a car rental service.

"McMaham deposited R2271 into Nel's wife's account to hire a car to travel to Mpumalanga. When he failed to deliver the car, it was discovered through investigation that he did not own a car rental service."

Nel and his wife were charged on a further allegation of fraud after they booked into a guesthouse in Roodepoort under false pretences that they were UK citizens who had come for the soccer tournament, but later disappeared without paying. "The accused has previous convictions of fraud and there was a warrant of arrest for him in Limpopo," said Mhaga.

Legal Aid South Africa says it has not processed a single World Cup case in KwaZulu-Natal since the start of the soccer spectacle.

But while foreigners visiting SA for the World Cup might be on their best behaviour in KwaZulu-Natal, in other provinces the pro-bono lawyers have their hands full.

So far only "three theft-related cases were handled in the Cape Town District Court. One matter was finalised and two postponed.

In Mpumalanga, a case against six men accused of robbing Pine Inn Hotel and one involving a 33-year-old Chilean soccer fan have been postponed to Monday in the KaBokweni magistrate's court.

In a separate incident, four men allegedly stole Coca-Cola branded umbrellas worth over R5000 at a fan park in Point on Saturday. The case was postponed to June 23.

Other cases include:

l A drunk driving charge against a French national in Durban;

l A Brazilian national, Wilson Soto Caldoron, who is in custody for theft in Cape Town;

l A Slovania man charged with drunken driving in Nelspruit;

l A Zimbabwean man found with 47gm of dagga in Musina.

l Last week, the Protea magistrate's court sentenced two Zimbabweans and a Nigerian for robbing foreign journalists in Magaliesburg.

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