Advocates, attorneys and Pretoria High Court staff milled around outside the court after being told they had to evacuate because of a bomb threat. Sources at the court said they believed a threat was sent to a staff member via e-mail at 1am on Wednesday morning, but it was only discovered several hours later.Cases had already commenced in criminal and civil trials and the civil roll was being called when proceedings were interrupted.
The court only re-opened several hours later, with the civil roll call proceeding through lunchtime in an effort to make up for lost time. Some advocates described the delay as a disaster, as it had a ripple effect on all cases, with clients having to foot the bill for lost time.
Many senior advocates are booked months, if not years in advance and cases are set down on the court roll long in advance. A morning’s delay could potentially result in some cases having to be postponed or legal counsel suddenly having to juggle their diaries to make up for the delay, some advocates said.
Advocate Jaco Roos said the delay could have cost implications for clients, as a three-day civil trial could suddenly become a four-day trial. Advocate Zjaan Schoeman said apart from court time being lost, it was the public who would have to foot the bill for the inevitable delays.
He said it could also potentially cause a backlog on the court roll. Lawyers already had to wait months to get court dates and this could cause further delays.