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Attorneys take legal action against CT Deeds Office over repeated closures

11 June 2020 6:20 PM
Tags:
High Court
Deeds Office
Cape Town Deeds Office
attorneys
urgent court application
CTAA
Cape Town Attorneys Association
conveyancers

The Cape Town Attorneys Association (CTAA) has launched an urgent court application in an effort to take the Cape Town Deeds Office to task.

The association will appear before the Western Cape High Court on Friday challenging the repeated closure of the Cape Town Deeds Office.

The Deeds Office is responsible for the registration, management, and maintenance of the property registry of South Africa.

The closure of the Deeds Office is having a negative impact on CTAA’s members - many of whom are conveyancers - as well as those who are looking to buy or sell their property.

The CTAA believes that the Cape Town office is not following the correct Covid-19 protocols when dealing with staff members exposed to the virus.

The Deeds Office was closed when the lockdown started in late March. It reopened on 12 May and closed shortly after when a member of staff was exposed to Covid-19.

According to attorney Stefan Le Roux, the employee was exposed to Covid-19 outside of the working environment.

When the Deeds Office later reopened, Le Roux says it operated at a limited capacity.

Over the past weekend, Le Roux says another member of staff was indirectly exposed to Covid-19. The Deeds Office was closed once again.

RELATED: Covid-19 positive employees can return to work without follow-up Covid-19 test

Since reopening under level 3, the office in Cape Town has had limited services due to a high level of absenteeism among concerned staff.

Le Roux, a partner at the law firm Glyn Marais and a member of the CTAA, says the Deeds Office is meant to have a risk assessment plan in place outlining measures to ensure the safety of workers.

Le Roux says the Deeds Offices in Joburg and Pretoria seem to be operating smoothly, with a turnaround time of seven working days for lodgments.

Meanwhile, the Cape Town's Deeds Office takes 27 working days to process lodgments, he explains.

Covid-19 protocols are very clearly set out.

Stefan Le Roux, Partner at Glyn Marais

Every employer must have a risk assessment protocol in place... and when there is a staff member exposed to Covid-19 or who has tested positive for Covid-19, a risk assessment has to be done.

Stefan Le Roux, Partner at Glyn Marais

As an employer, you've got to distinguish between a low-risk and a high-risk case.

Stefan Le Roux, Partner at Glyn Marais

Nowhere in the regulation does it say that where a staff member has tested positive for Covid-19, we must close shop for four days and decontaminate the building.

Stefan Le Roux, Partner at Glyn Marais

Every day that you close the Deeds Office, the transaction takes longer and the economic impact on those people who have got registrations in the Deeds Office... has colossal implications.

Stefan Le Roux, Partner at Glyn Marais

We are in court tomorrow.

Stefan Le Roux, Partner at Glyn Marais

Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:


11 June 2020 6:20 PM
Tags:
High Court
Deeds Office
Cape Town Deeds Office
attorneys
urgent court application
CTAA
Cape Town Attorneys Association
conveyancers

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