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Directions to Combat COVID-19 in Courts Drawn Up

May 5, 2020

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Directions to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 in all courts, court precincts and justice service points in South Africa have been published in Government Gazette 43268.

The directions are drawn up in terms of Disaster Management Act Regulations.

According to the justice and constitutional development department, the Directions must be read with Directives issued from time to time by the Chief Justice and Heads of Court in terms of the Superior Courts Act of 2013, and any other directive as may be issued by the Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State.

The Directions focus on restriction of services and access to a court room, court house or justice service point; postponement of criminal cases and related matters; civil cases; foreign language interpreters; legal aid; resolution of disputes; travel by officers of court; issuing of permits; safety measures at courts, court houses and justice service points during the period of the state of national disaster and exclusion.

Permitted services in terms of Alert Level 4 are listed.

Some measures include that Small Claims Courts may not operate under Alert Level 4 and services relating to these courts are limited to email and telephonic enquiries; civil cases that are not identified as urgent or permitted services in terms of the Directions may not be placed on the court roll during Alert Level 4; execution of warrants of execution, including evictions and all attachment and removal of property, are suspended under Alert Level 4; foreign language interpreters, where required, must be sourced from within the province in which the case is heard; heads of institutions must issue permits for the performance of permitted services and every person at a court room or court house or justice service point must wear a cloth face mask at all times and observe social distancing.

The Directions came into effect on the date of publication.