BY BLESSING MASAKADZA

THE fourth wave of the lethal coronavirus pandemic is threatening to spiral out of control, with several institutions, including courts, being forced to temporarily shut down.

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) was forced to take this difficult decision again yesterday after a number of its staff tested positive for the virulent respiratory disease.

This comes as the number of new infections is surging alarmingly, with the country recording 4 031 positive cases on Tuesday alone, a startling rise from the 2 555 cases that were recorded on Monday.

“The JSC announces the temporary closure of offices and court houses due to confirmation of Covid-19 cases.

“The temporary closure on Wednesday (yesterday) and Thursday (today) … is to allow for disinfection of premises, testing, contact tracing and adherence to all Covid-19 protocols to contain the continued spread of the virus.

“Business will resume on Friday (tomorrow),” the JSC said.

It added that the development meant that court cases that were supposed  to be heard yesterday had been pushed forward to Friday, and those set for today would now go ahead on Monday next week.

The High Court, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court were also temporarily closed until Monday. The temporary closure of the courts comes as the JSC is in the process of implementing an electronic case management integrated system (ECMIS) — a web-based system that automates court processes. 

The e-filing system will be rolled out in two phases starting in January next year, as the country moves to ensure that all courts go paperless. 

Briefing delegates and chief justices during the official opening of the Southern African Chief Justice’s Forum in Victoria Falls in September, Chief Justice Luke Malaba said the use of technology was the way to go during the pandemic.

“The importance of technology as an enabler and efficient, effective justice administration system cannot be over-emphasised in line with the current realities.

“Technology plays an important role in facilitating broad access to justice which remains threatened at the moment by the pandemic.

“The development and deployment of technology in the dispensation of justice has become a necessity that we can no longer afford to do without,” Malaba said then.

“It offers many benefits which can be harnessed by the judiciary including automation of court process which ensures flexibility and expedited justice delivery. 

“Technology also fosters transparency and a huge potential to eliminate opportunities for corruption due to the minimisation of human involvement in the process, while also enhancing easy storage and retrieval of information by stakeholders,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chitungwiza Municipality’s headquarters has also been temporarily shut down as Covid-19 causes more chaos in the country.

This came after five employees tested positive for the disease. In a notice, the council said the offices would be opened after its offices had been disinfected and all staff were tested.

Several private and tertiary institutions have also been forced into early closure, as the Omicron variant drives up new infections. – Daily News