Getting a divorce? Hurry up before the lights go out

By Drum Digital
24 June 2015

Couples trying to divorce are being forced to co-ordinate their lives together one last time as courts juggle their rolls to accommodate unpredictable power cuts.

In a memo sent out on Monday by the Durban Motion Court, based at the High Court in Durban, lawyers were advised to tell couples seeking an unopposed divorce this Friday to be in court 30 minutes earlier, citing load shedding as the reason.

The memo, circulated by the KZN Law Society, said “given the anticipated load shedding on Friday between 10am to 12pm, Motion Court in Durban will commence at 9am”. It normally starts at 9.30am.

“Please note, divorces will be heard first as this evidence needs to be recorded,” said the memo.

The official said with no alternative form of power, the courts come to a standstill as they are unable to record any audio.

One Durban high court official admitted that the power cuts either meant earlier starting times or late afternoons.

A lawyer, who asked not to be named, said unopposed divorces should only take an hour but that the unscheduled power cuts led to at least a two-hour delay and matters only being heard in the afternoon.

“The client may be paying for their legal service by the hour. If there is load shedding the client is left with a bigger bill. Sometimes you are lucky if your matter is heard at 3pm.

“In other instances you are told the court is ‘crowded out’ and your matter is postponed.”

The Department of Justice was asked if they had put any procedures in place to deal with reduced court time as a result of load shedding or if they were to provide any alternative forms of energy such as generators. There was no response at the time of going to press.

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