Nyore Madzianike and Blessings Chidakwa
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has announced the temporary closure of its head office in Harare and the upper and lower courts throughout the country for at least two days to allow fumigation and contact tracing, as cases of Covid-19 continue to surge among its employees.
Chitungwiza Municipality also closed its head office yesterday and suspended all council and committee meetings after several employees tested positive for Covid-19, as institutions begin implementing internal measures to help curb the spread of the pandemic.
A number of banks this week sent generic messages to clients through social media platforms advising on the temporary closure of some branches pending disinfection exercises.
Harare City Council yesterday also announced the suspension of face to face meeting with effect from next week as it ponders the next course of action after several workers tested positive for the virus.
In a statement, JSC said the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, all High Court stations and the Labour Court would be closed until Monday. Selected Civil and Criminal Courts will be closed today and tomorrow.
“The Judicial Service Commission wishes to advise stakeholders and members of the public of the temporary closure of all Superior Courts following confirmation of Covid-19 cases.
“Normal court business will resume on Monday December 13, 2021. The Superior Courts include the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and High Courts in Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare and Chinhoyi.
“The Labour Courts in Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru and the Administrative Court in Harare will also be closed. The temporary closure will allow for fumigation, disinfection and deep cleaning of the premises,” said the JSC.
The registry departments of the Superior Courts would remain open for urgent cases.
JSC also said the Harare Civil and Magistrates Court (Rotten Row), Mbare, Tredgold (Bulawayo), Gweru (criminal), Gwanda (civil and criminal), Plumtree and Mutawatawa courts were closed yesterday and today.
Shurugwi, Chitungwiza, Goromonzi, Norton, Rusape, Chegutu, Inyathi, Kadoma and Mutare civil and criminal courts would also be closed during that period.
“The temporary closure on Wednesday the 8th and Thursday 9th of December 2021 is to allow for disinfection of premises, testing, contact tracing and adherence to all Covid-19 protocols to contain the continued spread of the virus.
“Business will resume on Friday, the 10th of December 2021,” said JSC.
All matters set down for today were automatically rolled over to tomorrow and Monday.
Yesterday, Harare magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube was expected to preside over the matter in which Marry Mubaiwa is alleged to have lied that Vice President Constantino Chiwenga had consented to legally wed her during the time he was ill.
Mubaiwa is charged with violating the Marriages Act.
The State was expected to call more witnesses after Supreme Court judge Justice George Chiweshe, High Court judge Mr Munamato Mutevedzi and Judicial Service Commission secretary Mr Walter Chikwana testified against Mubaiwa.
Regional Magistrate Mr Kudakwashe Mhene was also expected to preside over Orchestra Mberikwazvo’s lead dancer Selemani Mpochi’s case in which he is alleged to have raped his teenage girlfriend. Mpochi is denying the charges.
Former Dynamos Football Club star Stanley Chirambadare’s trial on allegations of sexually abusing boys at his Mufakose-based soccer academy, was also supposed to kick off today, but has been affected by the court’s closure.
It is now expected to start on Monday.
Meanwhile, several Harare City Council employees have tested positive to Covid-19 with Chitungwiza Municipality taking the extra step of temporarily closing its offices after several employees tested positive for Covid-19.
Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme confirmed that some city employees had tested positive for Covid-19 adding: “They are self isolating because they tested positive for Covid-19. From next week our meetings will be virtual to reduce human interaction,” he said.
A source at Town House said at least 10 people operating from Cleveland House offices tested positive.
Chitungwiza Municipality’s health services director Dr Tonderai Kasu directed acting town clerk Mrs Evangelista Machona, all heads of departments and sections to close council premises.
“Within the last 24 hours (from Tuesday to Wednesday), five employees working in the Human Resources Department have tested positive for Covid-19. This prompted the Health Department to set up a mobile team at the council head office to test head office employees.
“During the first hour the team was doing its work, nine more employees tested positive for Covid-19,” he said.
“All physical council and committee meetings are suspended. These may only be held if they are virtual. Head office will only be opened after disinfection.
“All head office employees are strongly encouraged to get tested,” said Dr Kasu.