SA lockdown: Stay at home, Legal Aid SA urges clients

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Apr 8, 2020

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Port Elizabeth - Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid SA) has called on its clients to stay at home and obey the national lockdown regulations "in the interests of flattening the curve of Covid-19 infections", the organisation said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Although all Legal Aid SA offices have been closed for the during of the lockdown, it provides a service linked to the functioning of courts and its legal practitioners are required to work from during the lockdown period. 

Eastern Cape provincial executive, Hope Bambiso, has however said that their services are limited.

“While Legal Aid SA continues to provide services during the lockdown, these services are limited to urgent and essential matters only,” Bambiso said in the statement. 

"We are tracking which practitioners are in court, and those who are on the duty roster arrange dates with prosecutors telephonically, and only go to court to deal with bail applications and cases that are said to be urgent and essential. We cannot afford to take any risks,” Bambiso said.

Entry to courts is limited to people who are necessary to the case: practitioners, litigants, the accused and witnesses. The court may also allow people accompanying minors, persons with disabilities and victims of abuse to enter the courtroom. 

Jill Terblanche, a regional court practitioner for Legal Aid SA, takes the necessary precautions before she enters the North End Magistrate's Court. Picture: Siphokazi Nogaya/Legal Aid SA

"The number of people allowed to enter the court room is however determined by social distancing requirements and where possible, courts and practitioners are using audio-visual equipment and other electronic devices in order to further ensure physical distancing.

“Currently we are dealing with bail applications, postponements and fresh matters. Most of the fresh matters are linked to contravening the lockdown regulations,” high court legal practitioner, Jodine Cortzen, said.

“We are inundated with queries about attending court during lockdown. If you have a court date that was set prior to the lockdown period, we plead with you to please stay at home. All cases will be allocated new dates, post-lockdown, and all those affected will be advised accordingly,” Bambiso says.

African News Agency (ANA)

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