Chief Justice David Maraga has indefinitely suspended all open court activities in Mombasa after 11 staffers tested positive for Covid-19.
In a statement on Friday, Maraga said 11 out of 150 court staffers in Mombasa had contracted the virus in just 24 hours. They include judicial officers and registry staff.
“Additionally, their primary contacts within the courts, totalling 118 officers, have been identified and must now go into self-quarantine with immediate effect as directed by the Ministry of Health officials,” Maraga said in the statement.
The affected courts are the Main Court Building, the City Court and Tononoka Children’s Court.
“We shall, however, as much as possible, endeavour to offer online and other virtual services to court users.
This comes less than a week after the Judiciary promised to scale up court operations as it adheres to the Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols/
“To promote social distancing we shall limit the number of people physically accessing the courts at any given time. Kindly cooperate with the officers responsible at the court entrances,” the statement read.
The statement said that in allocating hearing dates, priority will be given to cases whose hearings were affected by the scaling down of court operations from March 16, 2020.
The Ministry of Health had in April raised concerns over the re-opening of courts saying that it was still not yet safe.
Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman said the health and safety of the court users came first, otherwise, there will be no one to dispense justice to.
“We have also seen a sustained push to re-open the courts. While we know that the courts serve a very important function in this country, we regret that this is not the time to do that,” Dr Aman said.
He thanked Maraga for exercising restraint in handling the matter, as the Law Society of Kenya pushed for the reopening of courts.