COVID-19 forces courts to close

CHIEF Justice Luke Malaba has suspended the filing of new cases and postponed all pending cases in all the country’s courts with effect from today until the end of the 21-day lockdown period, which takes effect from today.

BY RICHARD MUPONDE

All the pending cases before the courts have been deferred to after the lockdown, with criminal cases remanded to latest May 8, while civil matters in the higher courts were deferred to the second term.

Justice Malaba gave the directive yesterday.

“This practice direction applies to the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Labour Court, the Administrative Court and the Magistrates’ Courts in Zimbabwe and is issued to cover gaps resulting from the 21-day national lockdown directive to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic issued by His Excellency, the President effective 30 March 2020,” he said.

“To ensure that cases currently pending before the courts do not fall out of the system, this practice direction is issued to give directions to the filing of pleadings, process and handling of cases before the Courts from March 30, 2020 to April 19, 2020.

“Subject to paragraph 4, with effect from March 30, 2020, the filing of new cases, all processes and pleadings, shall be suspended for the duration of the national lockdown.

“Subject to existing limitations, only initial remands, urgent applications and bail applications may be entertained.”

He added: “Any act required by the rules to have been done during the period of the lockdown within a specified period of time, shall be done within the specified limit calculated from the first business day following the last day of the lockdown period.

“All pending civil cases are deemed to have been postponed as follows:-For the Magistrates’ Court, matters shall be deemed to have been postponed to the first business day following the last day of the lockdown period. For the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, High Court, Labour Court and Administrative Court, the matters are deemed to have been postponed to the first day of the second term.”

The Chief Justice further added: “The registrars of the respective courts shall reset the matters down in consultation with the parties, provided that the Sheriff of the High Court will not charge the cost of service for such matters.”

All summonses and subpoenas issued to accused persons and witnesses to appear in court were cancelled and would be reissued after the expiry of the lockdown, while all sales in execution were also stayed for the same duration of the lockdown.

Do you have a coronavirus story? You can email us on: news@alphamedia.co.zw

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