Patrick Chitumba and Mthabisi Tshuma, Chronicle Reporters
THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has closed the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and the Labour Court in Harare after some members of staff tested Covid-19 positive.
The commission has also banned members of the public with no court business from entering courts as the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) effects strict Covid-19 containment measures.
President Mnangagwa on Tuesday placed the country back on a strict level four lockdown, with new restrictions, which include custodial sentences for fake Covid-19 certificate holders, ban on intercity travel and mandatory quarantine for deportees and those from countries with Alpha and Delta Covid-19 variants now in place.
Businesses will now operate from 8AM and close at 3.30PM as part of the lockdown conditions.
The restrictions will be in place for two weeks pending a review of the situation.
In a statement yesterday, the JSC said the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and the Labour Court are expected to resume business on Monday.
“The Judicial Service Commission wishes to advise members of the public that the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and the Labour Court (Harare) will be closed from today the 1st of July 2021 until Friday the 2nd of July 2021.
“This has been necessitated by positive cases of Covid-19 that have been recorded at these courts. The closure is to allow for fumigation of the premises and testing of staff. The three courts are expected to re-open on July 5,” said JSC in a statement.
“Litigants and legal practitioners who may want to file any papers at these courts may get in touch with the Registrar whose numbers will be displayed at the court houses.”
On Thursday, Mr Walter Chikwanha said in line with Government efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 and to ensure safety of JSC members of the public are banned from courts.
The secretary said while courts remain open for the duration of the lockdown period, there is a need in light of surging incidences of positive cases being recorded at different courts and the inherent danger that this poses to members of staff, to take immediate action to reduce the number of people entering JSC premises.
“As a result, entry to court premises/ courthouses shall strictly not be permitted to members of the public who have no court business.
Entry will now only be limited to litigants, their legal practitioners, necessary witnesses and identified members of the Press,” he said.
Mr Chikwanha said courts will operate with reduced staff from 8AM to 3PM.
“While continuing to offer services, courts will operate with reduced numbers of staff. Working hours will be from 8AM to 3PM unless the specific duty requires the member to go beyond that time. Heads of department must ensure that not more than 40 percent of staff will attend at work at any given time in order to promote social distancing and safe working environments,” said Mr Chikwanha.
He said members of staff not reporting to JSC premises for duty are taken to be working from home.
Mr Chikwanha said at JSC premises, there shall be strict testing of temperature and sanitisation at entrance while correct wearing of masks and social distancing must be strictly enforced within court buildings and all offices.
He said heads of stations and provinces must, with immediate effect, make arrangements for the testing of every member of staff and vaccination for those who may want to be vaccinated.
“All members of staff who test positive must immediately go into isolation and only return to work after full recovery with a negative certificate,” said Mr Chikwanha. — @mthabisi_mthire