Courts resume normal services

Zimbabwean courts have resumed their normal services, subject to Covid-19 prevention protocols following the easing of the national lockdown measures by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The president announced relaxed measures Monday after the country started recording a decline in new Covid-19 cases and deaths.

In the latest practice direction, normal court operations and weddings will resume although entry into court premises, courthouses and courtrooms would be limited to litigants, their legal practitioners, necessary witnesses and identified members of the press.

Courts had suspended filing of new cases and other related processes as adherence measures listed in the Level IV National Lockdown measures, as published in Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021 (Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention,  Containment and Treatment) ( National Lockdown ) (No.2) (Amendment) Order, 2021 (No.9).

In a statement, Chief Justice Luke Malaba issued fresh practice directions, which would apply to the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the High Court, including the offices of the Master and the Sheriff, the Labour Court, the Administrative Court and the Magistrates Court including the Messenger of Court in Zimbabwe

“Normal court operations including the offices of the Master and the Sheriff of the High Court shall resume with effect from March 2, 2021, subject to paragraphs 10, 11, 12, and 13 of this Practice Directions,” said Justice Malaba.

These are preventative requirements, which state all persons who attend court shall at all times be subjected to temperature checks, be required to sanitise their hands at entry into court premises.

Face masks must be worn in the manner prescribed by law and person to person contact must be avoided while maintaining social distancing.

“Any person who does not comply with the requirements specified above shall not be allowed entry into court premises, courthouse, courtroom or shall be asked to leave the court premises or courtroom or courthouse,” said Justice Malaba.

Court operations shall process as prescribed in current practice directions and hours during which registries would be open for litigants, legal practitioners and the public will also be in terms of applicable court rules

“The filing and processing of new cases, prices, documents, pleadings papers and court orders , including service and execution by the Sheriff and the Messenger of Court shall be done in terms of the applicable Court Rules, legislation or court order,” said the Chief Justice.

“For the avoidance of doubt, accused persons originally remanded between January 5, 2021 and March 1, 2021 remain automatically remanded to the dates stated in Practice Direction 4 of 2021.”

Solemnisation of marriages would also be conducted, said the chief justice provided that only the parties to the marriage and their witnesses shall be allowed to attend.

Admission into court premises and offices are also subject to the above mentioned preventative measures and “entry into court premises courthouses shall strictly not be permitted to members of the public who have no business at court,” summed Justice Malaba.

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