'Women only' court directive in Johannesburg just an experiment, says judiciary

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A directive issued this week by a South Gauteng High Court judge, which stated that female and gender non-conforming people could enter his courtroom while men had to wait outside until called in, was merely a once-off experiment on access control, the judiciary said on Friday.

In the unopposed motion roll dated 20 October 2021, before Judge Gregory Charles Wright, he instructed male litigants to wait outside his courtroom until they were called in.

"Only litigants in person and practitioners who are women and practitioners who identify as gender non-conforming may enter the courtroom. Men practitioners to wait outside the courtroom until called in," read the top of the court roll. 

The roll consisted of 43 civil matters that were unopposed.

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A request for comment and context was sent to Wright's secretary, as well as Judge President Dunstan Mlambo's office. They did not respond.

Judiciary spokesperson Nathi Mncube said: "Deputy Judge President (DJP) Sutherland has advised that it was a once-off experiment conducted by Judge Wright on staggering access to the courtroom," Mncube said.

Mncube did not go into more detail about the note, adding that hearings will continue on virtual platforms going forward.

Court hearings on virtual platforms have become the norm since Covid-19 and the lockdown, which imposed requirements such as social distancing and limited numbers of people gathering in one place. 


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