Gauteng high courts to bar public in a bid to curb coronavirus spread

2020-03-16 18:04
The Pretoria High Court. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

The Pretoria High Court. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

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The high courts in Gauteng will restrict all people who aren't party to a court case from entering the court buildings or attending cases, in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

This includes people who are spectators of cases, both civil and criminal. 

Judge President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court, Dunstan Mlambo, has announced a number of directives to restrict access to the court buildings.

READ | Mother, child in Richards Bay test positive for Covid-19 as KZN cases rise

"Only practitioners, witnesses and accused persons are permitted to attend," Mlambo said.

Lawyers have also been advised to not attend judges' chambers for introductions. Judges will also not shake hands with any legal practitioner.

Judges who are not required to be in court for hearings will be required to work from home.

A decision will be made on whether their secretaries can do the same.

Mlambo also directed section heads to determine the minimum number of staff who need to continue to report for work to ensure that the general work of the court is not compromised.

To further enact social distancing, Mlambo announced that judges and staff should only deal with matters already enrolled for hearing, save for urgent court matters.

Immediate effect

These directives will apply with immediate effect until the start of the second court term on 14 April.

Meanwhile, walk-in services at the nationwide offices of the Public Protector have been suspended indefinitely.

Instead, people must email or call the offices.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the outbreak a national state of disaster on Sunday evening.

He announced drastic response measures to prevent the further spread of the virus, including travel bans and the closure of several ports of entry into South Africa.

On Monday, the number of confirmed cases stood at 62.

Read more on:    dustan mlambo  |  johannesburg  |  coronavirus  |  courts

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