THE South Gauteng High Court will have a technician on site to deal with generator problems during the ongoing rolling blackouts that are affecting court proceedings.
This move comes after the court’s Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland gave a directive last Thursday that the hearing of all matters would be done by video link.
Sutherland said the continuous load shedding affected proceedings as they did not have a reliable generator to allow the court to continue with cases during outages.
The Department of Public Works and infrastructure (DPWI) said on Tuesday, 17 January that the generators they provided were reliable and they work accordingly.
Department spokesman Siphamandla Nyembe said the generators provided to courts were working and the only problem was the issue of fuel.
“Regarding the issue of the Johannesburg High Court, DPWI was only informed of the problem on Friday, 13 January 2023 that the fuel was low. There was nothing that the department could do about that as client departments are responsible for buying consumables and ensuring that generators do not run out of fuel,” he said.
Nyembe said the department was responsible for the installation, maintenance and fixing of generators.
He said generators may heat up and become inadequate due to the long periods that they are expected to run during different stages of load shedding.
He said the DPWI was now advising clients to consider other sources of energy such as solar power as a back-up to generators.
He said these interventions would lessen the risk of overheating of generators and excessive fuel costs.
“In this case of the Johannesburg High Court, the client failed to procure diesel timeously. In the meantime, the DPWI has placed a technician on site so they may deal with any issues that may arise with the generators as quickly as possible,” said Nyembe.
He suggested that clients needed to have a dedicated team to keep a close eye on the availability and procurement of fuel stock to avoid total blackouts.
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The DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach said the failure of the DPWI to provide the court with a reliable generator system would result in further court backlogs and a grossly inadequate service being provided to the public.
Breytenbach said the problem further placed an even greater strain on an already overstretched and underresourced court service.
“It is particularly concerning that the Gauteng Division of the High Court is the busiest in South Africa, carrying an estimated 40% of the country’s caseload. Any reduction in capacity at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg places the effective functioning of the entire judicial system at risk,” she said.