Public barred from Gauteng courts as coronavirus precaution
Pretoria - The general public will be barred from entering the buildings in the Gauteng division of the high courts in Pretoria and Johannesburg, to attend any hearings - whether civil or criminal - as a spectator with immediate effect.
This is part of an urgent directive issued late on Monday in an effort to restrict access to courtrooms in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo directed that only legal practitioners, witnesses and accused will be permitted to attend court hearings. This will be immediately in force and remain in effect until the start of the second court term on April 14.
The judge further directed that apart from urgent matters, judges and staff will deal only with matters that are already enrolled for hearing, provided that parties agree to postpone matters which have already been enrolled during this time.
Affected parties whose cases had to be postponed because of these precautions, may approach the judge president for an expedited date for a new hearing.
Judge Mlambo further directed that no legal practitioner or members of the public may enter the court building to issue new cases and to process documents.
In this regard, practitioners will have to correspond with the Registrar’s office via email for directions as to filing documents.
Counsel may not attend judges’ chambers to introduce themselves, as all introductions, which have been tradition up to now, are suspended. Judges will not shake hands with any practitioners, Judge Mlambo directed.
Judges and their secretaries who are not scheduled for court sitting were given the green light to work from home where possible, provided that the judge president was advised about it.
He also said individual case management should be conducted by teleconference or Skype per arrangement between the parties and the appointed judge.
Fewer general staff will also report for work. Judge Mlambo directed that the section heads had to determine how many were needed to deal with the work to ensure that the day to day functioning of the court is not compromised.