Coronavirus: Magistrate courts in Joburg, Cape Town implement safety measures

2020-03-19 16:52
Magistrate's Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Magistrate's Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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The Johannesburg and Wynberg magistrate's courts are implementing the measures announced by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to minimise the spread of Covid-19. 

News24 visited both courts to see what progress was made after Mogoeng announced on Tuesday courts would run as normal as long as they do not exceed the 100-person restriction as directed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday.

"We do not know how long this will last, whatever we have to do needs to be sustainable for court operations. Courts will run as normal except the limit will not be exceeded, people will be represented," Mogoeng previously said.

READ | Mogoeng on coronavirus: Courts will run as normal, but 100-person limit will not be exceeded

At the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday, precautionary measures were visible at the security entrance, where all three guards wore gloves and masks. One of the three sanitisers was used by members of the public entering the court prior to entering the court precinct.

In addition, upon entering courtroom 14 - which has a relatively small public gallery - one person was seated on each bench to adhere to the one-metre distance rule.

A bailiff was wearing gloves, a mask and had sanitiser with him.

Court personnel such as the defence lawyer, prosecutor, magistrate and accused were placed a fair distance from one another.

Similar measures

News24 cannot confirm whether sanitiser, gloves or masks were being provided to all staff as some areas are closed off to members of the public.

However, guards and the police in the public area as well as the courtroom appear to have the necessary resources. It is not clear what the circumstances were in the private offices located in the court itself where staff spends most of their time.

At the Wynberg Magistrate's Court in Cape Town, a long queue formed outside it on Tuesday morning as strict control measures to help curb the spread of the coronavirus took effect.

It was a similar process as in Johannesburg.

Security officials wearing paper masks greeted court attendees. Once at the gates, another security guard sprayed sanitiser on people's hands. Those queuing told News24 they welcomed the measures as the rapid spread of the virus had them worried.

As of Wednesday, South Africa had 150 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Read more on:    coronavirus  |  courts

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