Access to courts to be restricted for next 60 days over Covid-19
Nonessential visitors will only be allowed into the court precinct with the permission of the head of court, the government directive states
Access to courts will be restricted for the next 60 days, according to directives issued by chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
The directives comes in the wake of SA declaring a national state of disaster in a bid to curb the spread of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The chief justice said the directives, which were gazetted on Friday and include limitations on who can come into the courts and the court precincts, is aimed to address, prevent and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Unless circumstances otherwise dictate, the directives shall be in force for a period of 60 days from the date of publication,” the gazette detailed.
According to the gazette, only certain people will be granted access to court precincts. These people include those with a material interest in a case, such as litigants, accused, witnesses, those who may be needed to provide support such as those accompanying children, victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse, the elderly and people with disabilities, family members, representatives of special interest or support groups and members of the media.
“Nonessential visitors will only be allowed into the court precinct with the permission of the head of court,” the directive stated.
The directives included that audiovisual remand centres in correctional centres linked to magistrates courts be used for purposes of the postponement of cases where the accused are in custody.
The directives also held that no witnesses who are in foreign countries shall be summonsed to attend a trial in SA. In instances where such cases cannot be postponed to a further date, testimony may be obtained through electronic means, the chief justice ordered.