06 May 2020 [Amended 07 May 2020]
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Ronald Lamola, issued directives for level 4 operations in terms of Regulation 4 (2) of the regulations under the Disaster Management Act (2002).
The measures are in keeping with the national effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in all justice service points. They also provide information on the justice services that are available during the level 4 lockdown.
A person who in the past fourteen days has been in contact with, or exposed to, another person who has tested positive for COVID-19 except a person who had tested positive but has recovered and subsequently tested negative, may not be allowed to enter a court room, court house or a justice service point during the state of national disaster.
Access to the courts are limited to persons with a material interest in a case provided that a judicial officer directs the number of persons in a room be reduced to comply with safety measures and social distancing requirements.
Audio-visual links, where these exist, must be used for the purposes of postponing cases if the accused persons are in custody and also and in unopposed bail applications for charges listed in schedule 1,5 or 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act. Where there is no audio-visual link installed between the correctional centre and the court, other alternative audio visual communication such as teleconferencing and videoconferencing must be used.
All criminal cases enrolled during alert level 4 must be postponed, save for prioritised cases or trials, those taking place within the context of the permitted services stipulated within the Regulations or where special arrangements have been made with the judicial officer hearing the matter.
Among others, trials relating to corruption, sexual offences, Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF), serious violent crimes, robbery, murder and violation of COVID-19 Regulations will be prioritised.
Matters where children are detained in Child and Youth Care Centres as well as Correctional Centres must be brought before the court for consideration of continued detention.
Civil cases that are not identified as urgent may not be placed on the court roll. However, Judicial Officers may authorise matters on the court roll to be heard through teleconference and videoconference means.
Among others, child and spousal maintenance proceedings; protection orders in terms of the Domestic Violence Act (1998) or the Protection from Harassment (2011); foster care applications and hearings; matters in respect of the care and contact as of children, international child abduction cases and adoption applications and hearings, will be heard.
Service of processes and execution of writs and warrants by sheriffs must be limited to cases which are urgent or permitted services.
A judicial officer who presides over a matter in court may, where the interests of justice require, order that application of any provision of these direction be deviated from.
Continued services rendered by the Offices of the Master of the High Court include payments to natural guardians, tutors and curators, or for and on behalf of minors and persons under curatorship as well as the processing of documentation required for the burial of a deceased persons and the urgent appointment of curators.
Every court manager/manager of a service point or any person managing the court must ensure that there is adequate supply of sanitisers and soap for people to wash and sanitise their hands. Everyone entering the court premises must at all times wear a cloth mask and observe social distancing requirements.
The department reaffirms its commitment to the safety and health of its staff and members of the public. While some sites of service have been affected by COVID-19, mitigating measures to address the spread of the virus at these points have been taken. For the detailed Regulations published in Government Gazette No 43258 and an updated list of justice service sites affected by COVID-19, go to: www.justice.gov.za/events/COVID-19.html.
Issued by the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
Enquiries: Mr Chrispin Phiri
Spokesperson: Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
Cell: 081 781 2261