Special courts set up for World Cup offenders

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa has set up more than 50 special courts to provide fast justice during the World Cup, officials said on Monday.

Justice Ministry spokesman Tlali Tlali said the 56 courts around the country would start operations immediately and wind up two weeks after the month-long tournament ends on July 11.

South Africa has also built holding cells in several of the 10 World Cup soccer stadiums to handle hooligans and others who commit offences during matches.

The courts have been established to accelerate cases involving foreign fans so that they can be dealt with before either suspects or witnesses leave the country.

Tlali said the courts, housed in existing judicial facilities, would apply normal legal processes. "There will be no leniency and no different standards will apply," he told the South African Press Association (SAPA).

South Africa is one of the world's most violent countries outside a war zone and crime has been one of the biggest concerns of tournament organisers. It has also been blamed for lower than expected foreign bookings for the soccer spectacular, now put at around 300,000 compared to an original estimate of 450,000.

(Reporting by Barry Moody, editing by Justin Palmer)