News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
16 Oct 2018
6:20 am

Cable theft virtually brings Pretoria High Court to standstill

Ilse de Lange

The court has emergency power, but many of the recording machines were not working, leading to cases being delayed, postponed or not heard at all.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Twitter

Cable theft yesterday virtually brought the High Court in Pretoria to a standstill, with only a few of the hundreds of cases on the roll in one of the busiest courts in South Africa proceeding because of a power outage.

Although the court has emergency power, many of the recording machines were not working, leading to both civil and criminal cases being delayed, postponed or not heard at all.

One of the cases that could not be heard was a long-awaited legal challenge to the constitutionality of the exclusion of domestic workers and their dependents from the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

A group of domestic workers had gathered at the court yesterday to protest their continued exclusion from key legislation meant to protect workers. They had to leave without the case being argued and no certainty about when it would be before court again.

The case was prompted by the tragic death of domestic worker Maria Mahlangu, who drowned in March 2012 after falling off a ladder and plunging into her employer’s open swimming pool while cleaning windows.

Her unemployed daughter Sylvia and grandchild, who were dependent on her income, were unable to claim for compensation through available legislation, even though Mahlangu had worked for the same family for 22 years.

The Act specifically excludes domestic workers and their dependents from the ambit of its protection for workers who had suffered disability or death during the course of their employment.

The department of labour also refused to pay any benefits to Sylvia and the grandchild.

Believing that the exclusion of domestic workers was unfair, unjust and arbitrary, Sylvia, helped by the SA Domestic Service and Allied Workers’ Union and the United Domestic Workers of SA, in 2015 instituted a legal challenge against the exclusion.

  • City of Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the outage was caused by vandals who burned supply cables. Power should be restored tomorrow. The court is currently using a generator.

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