It’s court, but not as we know it: Coronavirus changes legal proceedings_1

The next time you see the inside of a court, things could be very different indeed. The judiciary has announced that all houses of law will now be following some strict guidelines, in a bid to prevent the further spread of coronavirus across South Africa


On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a number of directives designed to keep South Africans safe in the face of this unprecedented crisis. One of the measures includes the practice of “social distancing”, which requires people to stay more than a metre away from one another at all times – and it prohibits public gatherings.

Courts to undergo radical changes to beat coronavirus


Of course, our courts are a hotbed activity, and hearings often attract big groups to small rooms. Tuesday’s meeting of the judiciary has put the brakes on several major processes, and it has changed the way legal proceedings will be operating from now on. The major alterations include:

Persons with a material interest in a case, such as practitioners, litigants, accused persons, witnesses and so on, will be the only ones allowed access to court.All court buildings shall be secured to avoid exposing Judicial Officers, court staff and members of the public to risk.It is imperative that all court buildings have running water, toilet paper, soap, disinfectant wipes and all other relevant health and safety material to limit the spread of coronavirus.A distance of one meter shall be maintained between people seated in a court room. Judicial officers and court staff must self-isolate and seek medical intervention if they display any symptoms. The Executive shall avail the necessary resources to ensure that these measures are implemented.The Department of Health shall conduct assessments of the preventative measures at Courts.

How clean is your court?


These changes to ‘outmuscle’ coronavirus will truly will be sweeping:


“There’ll be decontamination of reception and admission areas/community service centres, court rooms, cells and all other objects that are generally touched by persons utilising the facilities including handles and taps. Floor and work surfaces of court rooms, shall be disinfected at least twice a day during working hours.”
“We will have an assignment of officials who will sanitise the hands of professionals, persons in custody, inmates and visitors at all entry/exit points. All officials at reception and operational areas shall be issued with appropriate protective equipment, such as; heavy duty gloves, N95 masks, and protective eye shields.”Judiciary statement