As a result of restrictions imposed by Government to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease, relatives of people with cases at the Kiambu Law Courts have drastically been reduced.
A normal open court which initially accommodated more than 100 people, including a battery of about eight lawyers and four judicial officers will now only accommodate a total of 14 people, thus eliminating the number of relatives and friends who frequent the courtrooms to follow up on their relatives’ cases.
This reality was communicated to the court authorities, Monday, by the Public Health officers, who visited the facility for a mapping exercising ahead of fumigation exercise scheduled at the premises on Friday, May 8, 2020.
During extensive mapping exercise in all the six law courts, High Court, registries, chambers and offices, Kiambu Sub-county Public Health Officer, Mr. Charles Koigi, insisted that social distancing must be observed during the proceedings and in other work places.
The Public Health team from Kiambu Level Five Hospital was taken round the premises by the Kiambu Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Patriciah Gichohi, who noted the restrictions, especially which would affect two magistrates who have been holding proceedings in their chambers.
During proceedings, these magistrates have been conducting their cases in their tiny offices which have been holding at least seven people.
But according to yesterday’s recommendation, only four will be allowed to attend, thus compelling the Chief Magistrate to state that Court six for Ms. Rita Orora shall be conducted at the waiting bay.
The Judicial officers are in a quagmire as to how they will readjust operations for Court Five which is also held in chambers.
Mr. Simon Rading, the only male magistrate in Kiambu, remarked that his chambers was too tiny even to allow four officers as per the recommendations, therefore, the need to find a more spacious room for execution of his work if he was to observe the health rules and protect himself accordingly.
Koigi advised that only the necessary people during the hearings should be allowed to be in court. They will include the magistrate, prosecutor from DPP’s office, the court clerk for interpretation of proceedings, the accused and the court orderly assigned to guard them and in case they are represented, their lawyer shall be allowed to attend.
If the accused are more than one, the court shall be cleared of relatives so that they occupy seating area while adhering to the social distancing rule.
However, the maximum number of relatives that have normally been accommodated in court one which is the biggest have been scaled down to 12 from a crowd of more than 100 as some relatives, witnesses and friends were allowed to follow proceedings while standing at the entrance of the courtroom.
The Public Health team further advised that one cell which traditionally holds more than 80 inmates be occupied by a paltry four. Currently, the cells have remained unused as suspects have been waiting from the police vehicles until when the court process would begin.
At the Kiambu law courts, there are only three male cells, one for females and one for children who in most cases are arraigned in court for care and protection.
At the High Court, the team recommended that only four officers be allowed to work at a go instead of the seven who normally occupied the office. The officers have since begun working on shifts so as to observe the rules.
By Lydia Shiloya