'Death trap' Musina Magistrate's Court closed for health and safety act violations

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The Public Servants Association welcomed the closure of the Musina Magistrate's Court, saying the building was a 'death trap'.
The Public Servants Association welcomed the closure of the Musina Magistrate's Court, saying the building was a 'death trap'.
PHOTO: Duncan Alfreds, News24
  • The Public Servants Association has welcomed the closure of the Musina Magistrate’s Court.
  • The building was closed due to Occupational Health and Safety Act violations.
  • The association described the building as a "death trap" and said employees were in danger.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) has welcomed the closure of the "death trap" Musina Magistrate's Court, which it believed was "in danger of collapsing, owing to structure support failure".

"The closure comes after a long battle with the [justice] department as employees were subjected to an unsafe work environment that was in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act," the association said in a statement.

The PSA said the department was issued with a contravention notice in September 2020 in relation to general safety, construction and electrical installation regulations.

"The PSA raised the matter of employees' safety and visited the building in May 2021. After unsuccessful engagement with the employer, the matter was escalated to the Department of Employment and Labour, leading to a visit by an inspector on 26 July 2021."

On Monday, the labour department issued the court with a prohibition notice in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, according to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development's spokesperson, Steve Mahlangu.

"Until all issues raised by the Department of Labour have been attended to and the building receives clearance, the Cash Hall Building that houses Court A (District Court) and Court B (Regional Court) is deemed to be out of bounds effective immediately," Mahlangu said.

In the meantime, cases will be postponed outside the court building on a daily basis.

Closure could have been avoided

Matters relating to witnesses' fees or for the cash hall, domestic violence applications, and already enrolled maintenance matters will be attended to from the available mobile structure.

Service delivery at the Masisi Periodical Court is not affected.

"The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has been assured by all the relevant stakeholders that the matter is an urgent priority. Once we have obtained further information, the department will share any further details on developments in due course," Mahlangu added.

Measures have been put in place to avoid staff congestion and to ensure compliance with Covid-19 protocols under Alert Level 3 regulations, Mahlangu said.

The PSA said the closure could have been avoided if the issue raised in the contravention notice had been attended to.

"The PSA has on numerous occasions called upon the Limpopo provincial government to ensure that the safety of employees is prioritised, especially in view of the many rented unsafe buildings," the statement read.

"Employees' safety cannot be compromised by the failure to ensure due diligence by those entrusted with the responsibility of securing safe buildings. The PSA is of the view that many buildings housing government departments are unsafe and dilapidated and advised the Department of Public Works to conduct a full audit on the safety of buildings."

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