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Judiciary goes under lockdown

MPHO MOKWAPE
Judiciary goes under lockdown
The Administration of Justice (AoJ) has announced that the Judiciary, just like other  government departments, will be on lockdown effective today (Friday).

Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane yesterday issued a practice directive on court operations during the COVD-19 state of emergency.

The directive to suspend duties is in line with the declaration made by the State President, Mokgweetsi Masisi on March 31, 2020 for lockdown in order to address the grave situation posed by COVID-19.

According to the directive, effective from today there shall be no court hearings except in relation to extremely urgent applications.

Rannowane explained that such applications would not be registered unless the duty judge and magistrate confirmed the urgency of such a case and directs that it be registered.

“The purpose of this directive is that where possible, judicial officers and support staff as well as stakeholders should be facilitated to remain at home to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.

The directive indicates that there will be a single magistrate at each Magistrate’s Court, a single judge at each High Court and

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a single Court of Appeal Justice who will be on call while the necessary support will be on call during lockdown.

Amongst other factors, the directive says most duties will be suspended including payments of court fees, most court hearings while where applicable the court will resort to video conferencing.

“Judicial officers will utilise this period to conclude their pending judgements, working from home while court reporters with pending records for transcription will be loaned laptops/desktops to work on those records from home where practicable,” reads the directive.

While the directive is clear on who is supposed to be at work at a particular time and insists that most work will be done at home, the situation will be observed from time to time, said the Chief Justice.

Justice Rannowane also said the practice directive will be subject to review from time to time as circumstances unfold in light of the coronavirus pandemic.



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