Patrick Chitumba–Midlands Bureau Chief
Business in the civil and criminal courts has returned to normal with the Judicial Service Commission ordering normal court operations from today, albeit without the general public.
Superior courts remain on their normal vacation until the start of the third term on September 6.
The JSC had scaled down court activities to the essentials of remand hearings, bail applications and urgent applications in response to the third-wave spike in Covid-19 infections which also affected its staff.
Since then the infection rate has fallen dramatically, although still around nine times the rate between waves.
The return to normalcy was announced by Chief Justice Luke Malaba yesterday in the new Practice Direction 9 of 2021.
According to the new practice direction, the filing and processing of new cases, processes, 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.
The courts will be operating while observing all the Covid-19 preventative measures of masking, temperature checks, sanitisation and physical distancing. Only persons with court business shall be admitted.
Court sittings for superior courts, that is the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, High Court, Labour Court and Administrative Court remain limited to urgent court applications and bail hearings until September 6 when the third term commences.
This is normal when these courts are on their vacation.
Entry into court premises, court houses and courtrooms is limited to litigants, their legal practitioners, necessary witnesses and the media. Those who decline to follow the rules will be refused entry or be ejected.
The Chief Justice reminded litigants and others required to attend court in a province or district other than where they are normally resident can obtain the necessary letters of clearance at the nearest police station.