Sunday, 17 February 2019

PUBLIC VIOLENCE CASES OVERWHELM BYO


THE Judiciary Services Commission (JSC) has deployed 10 senior magistrates to Bulawayo to help their counterparts deal with the high number of public violence cases in the province emanating from last month’s protests.

Hundreds of people were arrested countrywide following the violent protests characterised by looting of shops and destruction of infrastructure.

JSC acting secretary Mr Walter Chikwanha said Western Commonage courts followed by the Bulawayo magistrates’ courts housed at Tredgold Building have the highest number of public violence cases in the country hence their decision to deploy 10 more magistrates.

“We’re simply supporting our magistrates in Bulawayo because we have realised that according to statistics, the highest number of people appearing in court for public violence in the country is in Bulawayo particularly at Western Commonage Courts and magistrates’ there are overwhelmed,” said Mr Chikwanha.
“We realised that if we are not careful we run the risk of ignoring other cases as we concentrate on public violence cases hence we need to strike a balance. We decided to bring 10 magistrates from other provinces and they will be in Bulawayo for a month to help their colleagues so that matters are dealt with expeditiously.”

He could not give the actual number of the cases. Mr Chikwanha said the magistrates comprise provincial and regional magistrates and will return to their stations after the cases are completed.

He said their deployment was agreed upon by an all-stakeholders technical committee set-up recently.
“The idea came out of an instruction from Chief Justice Luke Malaba in his response to a petition by lawyers where he directed that a technical committee be set-up to look at how matters can be dealt with expeditiously without compromise. The committee met and agreed on how the matters can be addressed expeditiously,” he said.

High ranking officers from the JSC, police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) make up the committee.

The NPA also seconded officers to beef up staff in Bulawayo specifically for the public violence cases.Mr Chikwanha said weekly assessments will be done to monitor progress.

He said Bulawayo, Harare and Midlands were the only provinces that still have a high number of public violence cases pending in the courts. In Matabeleland South there is one pending case in Plumtree, Mr Chikwanha added.

He said Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West provinces had finalised public violence cases. 

He said 114 accused persons were found not guilty and acquitted while 180 were convicted countrywide according to last week’s statistics.

Mr Chikwanha said he was happy with progress being made adding that JSC was committed to delivering justice. Chronicle


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