Durban magistrate's court closed after magistrate tests positive for Covid-19
The Durban magistrate’s court has been shut until Wednesday after a magistrate tested positive for Covid-19.
The court building has been open since the start of the lockdown though it has not been business as usual with all trials being adjourned. Staff, including prosecutors, magistrates and support staff, have been reporting for duty.
In a WhatsApp message to all magistrates, acting regional court president Sharon Marks advised that the building would be closed on Monday and Tuesday for disinfecting.
Regional courts would sit in the municipal court building next door.
In a message to prosecutors, forwarded to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE, senior prosecutor Val Melis advised staff that the magistrate from E court had tested positive.
“As a result the regional head of the province has decided to have Durban court decontaminated since we have already had two cases,” she says.
“The staff of E court are having the necessary tests and going into self-isolation.”
She advises prosecutors to gather in the car park first thing on Monday and they will be allocated duties.
Some would be sent to the municipal court building to handle regional and district court remands.
Teams of prosecutors would also be sent out to police stations to deal with first appearances.
Melis said she would ensure that she was in possession of all charge sheets and dockets.
On Saturday, TimesLIVE was told that while magistrates were happy to go to police stations, prosecutors and court clerks were not, citing an increased risk of contracting the virus.
Discussions were under way on Saturday.
Provincial head of justice Pat Moodley said another staffer had contracted the virus about three weeks ago.
“At that time, the affected courtroom was decontaminated and all contacts were screened and tested and quarantined. No-one tested positive.”
She said they were advised of the second confirmed case on Thursday.
“All contacts have been identified and their names forwarded to the department of health which has confirmed that tracking and testing will commence this (Saturday morning). The decontamination will take place this (Saturday) afternoon and tomorrow (Sunday) and the building will remain shut until Wednesday.”
She said the accused and witnesses in cases must not appear as matters will be postponed in their absence and they would be advised of new dates.
“Applications for urgent domestic violence applications would be processed at the municipal court building.”