Courts open today under strict conditions  


Tendai Kamhungira

THE country’s courts are set to open today under strict conditions following Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s directive that came in the wake of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s easing of coronavirus lockdown measures.

The country is currently on lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease, which has so far infected 36 people, including four deaths and nine recoveries.

In a notice, Malaba said after Mnangagwa announced that the country was moving to Level Two lockdown, all the courts would be opening today, but under strict conditions.

“All courts shall become operational with effect from May 11, 2020. Registries shall be open for litigants, legal practitioners and the public on week days, between 0800hrs and 1500hrs.

“Filing of court documents, including process and pleadings, shall proceed in terms of the applicable rules, legislation or court order. Matters must be heard and determined expeditiously to avoid unnecessary attendances by litigants at courts,” Malaba said.

He, however, said the Sheriff shall serve all other processes and orders, but would not carry out “evictions, executions or conduct sales in execution for the duration of the lockdown”.

In terms of the new directive, the solemnisation of marriages remained suspended during the lockdown period.

Among some of the conditions that have to be met before one enters the court building is that they have to wear a face mask, be subjected to temperature checks and sanitisation of hands, maintain social distancing and avoid person to person contact.

“Any person who does not comply with the requirements specified … shall not be allowed to enter into the courthouse or courtroom; or shall be asked to leave the courtroom or the courthouse.

“Entry into court rooms shall be limited to litigants, their legal practitioners, witnesses and members of the press.
“Entry into courthouses shall not be permitted for members of the public who have no business at court.

“Litigants who are required to attend court in a province or district other than where they are normally resident shall obtain the necessary letters of clearance at the nearest police station,” Malaba said.

The country first went into a lockdown on March 30 for 21 days, which expired on April 19. Mnangagwa announced an extension by further 14 days, which ended on May 3, before the current extension by another 14 days.

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