By SANDILE NKAMBULE | 2020-07-07
TWO High Court judges have tested positive to the coronavirus and business was abruptly halted to fumigate the place.
The court was literally grounded as legal counsel, staff and members of the public were evacuated following the report that the two judges have tested positive to COVID-19.
Court business had started as usual in the morning with criminal and civil matters being heard by some judges. However, it was just after noon when the court was evacuated, stalling the business of the day as some cases were still being heard.
One of the cases that were affected was that of suspect rhino poachers Stanley Nhlakalufu and three others which was before Judge Maxine Langwenya and prosecuted by deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Israel Magagula.
The names of the affected judges are known to this publication but have been deliberately withheld for ethical reasons. It is said that the judges’ security, clerk and secretaries were also requested to go in isolation as they work closely with the two judges. It is expected that business will resume this morning as usual after the fumigation exercise which was to be carried yesterday afternoon.
The judges’ positive test follows that of Public Works and Transport Minister Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe last week, which has forced cabinet to work from home virtually in an event they will need to hold meetings. As part of the fight against the deadly pandemic, Chief Justice (CJ) Bheki Maphalala in one of his directives stepped up preventative measures which included, amongst others, that only people with direct and substantial interest would be allowed to attend court cases.
On top of that, judges were provided with sanitisers and also temperature thermometers placed at the entrance to screen those coming to court. Concerns were raised by some lawyers at one point as they feared contracting the virus owing to the fact that at times they have direct contact with their client when taking instructions inside court while exchanging of court documents is the order of the day-to-day court process.
This high profile COVID-19 positive tests follow the death of Swaziland Building Society Managing Director Timothy Nhleko who succumbed to the deadly pandemic.
He was buried on Saturday in one of the shortest funeral processions, which is said to have lasted 20 minutes.
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