Chief Justice gives direction on court operations in line with two weeks lockdown review

By ZBC Reporter

CHIEF Justice Luke Malaba has given direction on the operations of the Justice System following the pronouncements by President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday of extending the national lockdown for a further 14 days.

“Following the pronouncement by His Excellency on 15 February 2021 and the issuance of Statutory Instrument 42 of 2021 (Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (No.2) (Amendment) Order, 2021 (No. 13) extending the Level IV National Lockdown period by a further two weeks, this practice direction is issued to guide on court operations for the period from 16 February 2021 up to the expiry of the extended Level IV National Lockdown.

“This practice direction applies to the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Labour Court, the Administrative Court and the Magistrates’ Court in Zimbabwe.
Chief Justice Malaba said the filing of new cases, process, documents, pleadings and papers shall remain suspended for the period up to 1 March 2021, unless the period is earlier extended or revoked. Registries will only accept initial remands; urgent processes and applications; and bail applications.

“Registries, he said, shall be open for litigants and legal practitioners on weekdays, between 0800hrs and 1600hrs to accept process related to initial remands; urgent processes and applications; and bail applications.

“The Sheriff and the Messenger of Court will also be available to attend to similar matters related to the above,” said Chief Justice Malaba.

Admission into court premises and offices shall be only for those who will be tested for Covid-19.

“All persons who attend Court will be tested and shall at all times be required to sanitise their hands at entry into court premises; wear face masks in the manner prescribed by law; avoid person to person contact; and maintain social distancing as prescribed by law. Any person who does not comply with the requirements specified shall not be allowed entry into court premises/courthouse/ courtroom; or shall be asked to leave the court premises or courtroom or courthouse,” added the Chief Justice.

He further explained that entry into court premises/courthouses/courtrooms shall be limited to litigants, their legal practitioners, necessary witnesses and identified members of the press.

“Entry into court premises/courthouses shall strictly not be permitted to 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 All summonses, subpoenas and warnings in court issued directing accused persons and or witnesses to appear in court between 5 January 2021 and 1 March 2021 are cancelled and shall be reissued after the expiry of the lockdown period,” he said.
Offenders who were sentenced to community service are being notified that the service has been suspended and will be carried out on the first business day following the last day of the lockdown period.

All pending civil cases are deemed to have been postponed as all pending criminal cases on remand shall, by virtue of this practice direction, be automatically rolled over for the period of the extended Level IV National Lockdown.

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