CHIEF Justice Luke Malaba yesterday toured the Harare Magistrates Courts to assess the level of compliance and prevention measures in the fight against Covid-19.
The Chief Justice went through the newly-installed sanitising and disinfectant spraying booth and undertook temperature checks and hand sanitisation just like any other visitor.
Chief Justice Malaba said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will do everything to make courts safe.
“As you know, we as a country and in that respect all the departments of Government, all institutions, including the Judiciary are facing the challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic.
“At the same time as we all know Government has had to take measures to protect its citizens which measures ensured that all citizens are locked down. That took some time and the Judiciary was part and parcel of implementing those measures.
“You cannot have unlawful commerce. You cannot have unlawful activities of an industrial nature taking place which are not supported by the law. So, it became necessary for the courts which are the institutions which protect those who find themselves in disputes as to whether what they are doing is lawful or not to be present and in that regard it became necessary for the courts to be opened,” he said.
The Chief Justice said the courts were opened not because the Judiciary wanted them to open, but the opening was provided for in the necessary statutory instruments.
“And therefore, what we are doing in opening the courts to the public in the restricted conditions that we have imposed is consistent with the requirements of the statutory instrument. The courts are open to those who need to be in court, so it’s a necessary service.
“They are not open unfortunately for any person who would want to while time in court. Under normal circumstances courts are open to anybody, but at this hour because of this challenging time, courts are open to a limited number of people.
“Even those people who have to come to court have to undergo certain measures, restrictions to protect them from any form of infection,” he said.
He said that all courts countrywide have been provided with necessary equipment for protection against Covid-19.
Chief Justice Malaba fielded questions from journalists who sought to know what was being done to reduce the backlog of court cases.
“We should be worried about the efficiency and effectiveness of our response measures. How effective and efficient are the measures that we put in place to respond?
“How good and skilled, quick is the person trying the case? How good and efficient is the person who is prosecuting the case?
“How good and efficient is the lawyer who is pleading the case? If all these people are conscious of the duty to expeditiously dispose of cases, we wouldn’t talk about backlog”.
The Chief Justice said the courts remained busy as crimes were committed on a daily basis.
He was accompanied by JSC Secretary, Mr Walter Chikwana, his deputy Mr Sithembinkosi Msipa and Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi.