A bride-to-be who showed up at the Bulawayo Civil Court housed at Tredgold Building on Tuesday morning in formal wedding clothes and was turned away at the door, shared her heartbreak and anger after she was forced to cancel her much hyped once-in-a-lifetime moment because of Covid-19.
Helen, who did not want her last name used for privacy reasons, told B-Metro that she was absolutely gutted but later felt safety was a priority.
“I was initially disappointed because I spent so much time and effort planning this over the past year. But it later dawned on me that I should not worry much because my health and that of my friends and relatives is more important than a wedding event. With my loved one we are, however, willing to work around whatever obstacles come our way,” she said.
Helen was not the only bride-to-be whose search for love in the time of the coronavirus was cancelled in Zimbabwe after Chief Justice Luke Malaba on Monday directed the country’s civil courts to cancel all pre-booked weddings.
Couples, some from far away places and even from outside the country, had turned up to tie the knot but were turned away after being told that no marriages were taking place.
In a statement on Monday, CJ Malaba said as part of social distancing, courts were limiting attendance with all persons accessing court buildings now required to be sanitised and those seeking services maintaining a distance of at least two metres in the queues.
CJ Malaba said those who had booked for their weddings would need to rebook after two months.
“All weddings are cancelled and parties may approach the courts for rebooking after a period of two months,” said CJ Malaba.
The cancellation of weddings came as Zimbabwe recorded its first Covid-19 death on Monday after a patient who was admitted to Wilkins Hospital in Harare died on Monday morning.
The victim, Zororo Makamba (30), was the second person to test positive for Covid-19 after travelling to New York in the United States of America on February 29 and returning home on March 9 via Johannesburg.
Sources at the Civil Court at Tredgold in Bulawayo said they were of late limiting bookings for weddings to five on Tuesday and another five on Friday, meaning in the two months up to 80 weddings could have been cancelled excluding the Western Commonage courts, where vows are also exchanged.
Weddings at the magistrates’ courts take place on Tuesdays and Fridays, although most couples prefer Fridays so that they go partying afterwards.
“We got a directive to suspend marriages until further notice. We even phoned some of the couples soon after getting the directive but we were surprised to see some of them in the morning today (Tuesday) in their formal wedding clothes,” said a judicial officer, who declined to be named.
According to statistics obtained from the Bulawayo High Court the number of couples who had their marriages solemnised by magistrates at the Bulawayo’s Tredgold Building increased to 1 267 in 2019 compared to the previous year when 1 192 couples exchanged marriages vows.
In Zimbabwe, the marriage institution is treated with great respect and people pour in large sums of money in preparations.
Research has also revealed that although it’s hard to evaluate how much effect will last over time, missing on these types of once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as weddings can have a negative psychological impact in one’s life.