Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has removed the Covid-19-induced solemnisation of marriages moratorium bringing joy to couples who had been forced to put their wedding plans on hold.
President Mnangagwa declared Covid-19 a national disaster on March 30, followed by the announcement of Level One of the national lockdown, social gatherings, including weddings in the country were banned because of the highly infectious nature of Covid-19.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba directed the country’s civil courts to cancel all pre-booked weddings at the time.
Parties were directed to approach the courts for rebooking after two months.
Many couples were left counting their costs because when planning a wedding, many pay deposits for wedding venues, wedding dresses, the cake, food, and car hire, among other costs in advance.
CJ Malaba yesterday said solemnisation of marriages can now be conducted but parties should follow lockdown rules and regulations which include social distancing.
However, only the parties to the marriage and their witnesses shall be allowed to attend solemnisation of marriages at the Civil Courts.
“Practice Direction 3 of 2020 is amended in Paragraph 11 by the deletion of that paragraph and substitution with the following: 11 Solemnisation of marriages shall be conducted provided that, only the parties to the marriage and their witnesses shall be allowed to attend; and the conditions set out in paragraph 12 are fully complied with,” said CJ Malaba.
The amendment, he said, will be with effect from June 4.
People getting into the court must wear face masks and avoid person to person contact among other rules to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“Litigants and other court users shall at all times, be subjected to temperature checks and sanitisation of hands at entrances, wear face masks, avoid person to person contact and maintain social distancing of at least one metre apart,” reads part of the Practice Direction.
Any person who does not comply with the requirements specified in the Practice Direction 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.”
Contacted for comment, JSC acting secretary Mr Walter Chikwana said the new amendment to Practice Direction 3 of 2020 is only applying to magistrate and judges only.
He said he was not aware of the status of religious ministers in terms of solemnising marriages.
“This is a Practice Direction of JSC magistrates and judges alone. Those who fall under JSC. I don’t know about the man of cloth since they don’t fall under JSC,” said Mr Chikwana.
Welcoming the lifting of the ban, Nobert Moyo and his wife to be Mihlaemihle Sidambe said: “Our main concern is to get married, as just wondering and saying we could have been married is weighing on us. We are happy that the ban has been lifted and we are looking forward to August 1 the date (April 18) that we had put aside from the one that was cancelled. This might mean that we’ll have just 50 people at our wedding,” said Moyo.