Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
SEVERAL Bulawayo laws firms have shut down their offices while the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has also streamlined operations at the courts as part of measures taken to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19.
The closure of law firms is part of measures adopted by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) in fighting the spread of the deadly global pandemic.
Notable city law firms that closed their doors for business include Mutatu, Masamvu, Da Silva-Gustavo Law Chambers, R Ndlovu and Company, James, Moyo-Majwabu and Nyoni Legal Practitioners, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association, Moyo and Nyoni Legal Practitioners and Abigail Masawi Law Chambers.
The law firms have since put notices of temporary closure on their office entrances and sent correspondences to the Registrar of the High Court and Clerk of Court to that effect.
“To our valued customers and all stakeholders, please be advised that due to Covid-19 pandemic also known as coronavirus, we will be closing our offices from Wednesday, 25 March 2020 until further notice. The closure has been necessitated by the need to play our part in helping in terms of containment and delay of the spread of the pandemic while also safeguarding the health of our employees, clients and all other stakeholders,” read one notice. One of the city lawyers,
Mr Bruce Masamvu said they will be working from their homes and only attending urgent matters.
In a statement, LSZ executive secretary Mr Edward Mapara said in the wake of Covid-19, they decided to adopt practical measures to reduce the spread of the deadly virus through the suspension of non-essential services.
“In consultation with other stakeholders and also checking with colleagues in the Sadc region, it is necessary to immediately adopt measures which include the suspension of non-essential services, allow non-essential service employees to work from home and the suspension of all physical meetings of council and committees and trainings,” said Mr Mapara.
“We profoundly encourage members to work from home and only go to offices and the courts when it is absolutely necessary and in which case you ought to take precautionary measures.”
The JSC has also considerably reduced activities at the courts.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba on Monday directed the country’s civil courts to cancel all pre-booked weddings and ordered the postponement of trials and non-urgent hearings by two months, with court hearings now strictly confined to parties involved and their lawyers.
As part of a raft of measures to combat the spread of Covi-19, CJ Malaba said the bulk of JSC staff using public transport will be working from home with the courts being manned by skeletal staff only.
“I want to urge all JSC members to take advantage of the scaling down of operations in our offices and courts by self-quarantining ourselves and not only spending time with our families, but also reflecting on our work and profession,” said CJ Malaba.
He also urged judges and magistrates to capitalise on the period of self-isolation by attending to reserved judgments and outstanding reviews. — @mashnets