Constant outages due to loadshedding have led to the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg reverting to the online system that was adopted during the lockdown, as there is no alternative power source.
Deputy Judge President of the Gauteng Division, Roland Sutherland, said this was a result of the effect of loadshedding on the court building, and the failure of the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) and Department of Public Works to provide the court with a reliable generator which could cover during the outages.
In a written notice on Friday, Sutherland said the mandate was effective immediately and apologised for what he called the "grossly inadequate service" being made available to the public.
The default mode for hearing all matters will now be via video link.
Sutherland said the presiding judge could adapt this where appropriate, and in consultation with the parties.
"In the unopposed courts where multiple matters are heard, such consultation is not feasible, and if the judge decides to vary the hearing to be physical, an ad hoc directive shall be issued by that judge on the Friday before the relevant week."
"In trials where the parties are able to offer a suitable alternative venue to the satisfaction of the judge... they are encouraged to do so."
He said this arrangement would continue until the OCJ and the Department of Public Works could provide appropriate backup facilities for loadshedding.
Sutherland said no indication could be given of when that might happen, if at all.
"On behalf of the judiciary and the registry staff, I offer an apology for the grossly inadequate service being made available to the litigating public.
"I appeal to the profession to endure the disruption and inconvenience with patience," he said.
On Wednesday, Eskom announced the implementation of Stage 6 loadshedding, "until further notice".
Stage 6 was instituted from 21:00 on Wednesday, going on overnight each day from 16:00 in the afternoon until 05:00 the next morning.
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