2021: A year of mixed fortunes for the Judiciary

by | Jan 12, 2022 | Crime & Courts, Local News | 0 comments

 

 

Brian Rungano Temba

Yesterday Chief Justice Luke Malaba gave his State of the Judicial Address at the official opening of the 2022 judicial year.

In his address, he told the delegates that most of the losses seen in the year 2021 were attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic triggered Government to respond in Lockdown regulations to curb the spread of the COVID-19 Virus,” said Chief Justice Malaba.

He said courts operated in subdued capacity for six months, resulting in fewer cases being tried in 2021 than in 2020.

“The backlog of cases has risen, therefore fewer cases have been finalised in 2021 than the previous year,” the Chief Justice said.

He said despite the challenges, the Judicial Service Commission registered some wins in the just ended 2021.

 

The Big Gains

In May 2021 JSC began renovations on a District Court in Mt Darwin.

The new court now has more space, Court House with disabilty-egronomically compatible features as well as mordenised furniture. The building was rundown prior to this intervention.

Since the beginning of 2021 JSC has neen working on the refurbishment of Commercial Division of the High Court. This division which is expected to run paperless will deal with Commercial disputes only.

The refurbishment is expected to be done by end of this year.

In Matebeleland North’s capital Lupane, JSC has made great strides in establishing the Lupane Magistrates court since Lupane was previously did not have any JSC structures.

The JSC was leasing on Lupane District Administration buildings.

The new facility houses ablution, main court, prison cells and is left with plumbing, electricity fittings and painting.

The project is to be completed by the end of the first term.

In Gwanda a multi-purpose court is under construction. Due to a change in contractors, the court is expected to be opened in 12 months.

 

The highlight of 2021 achievements is the Chinhoyi court complex which is the template design for all utility feature in future projects.

The Chinhoyi court was officially opened by The President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

It houses the Magistrate Court, High Court and the office of the sherif.

JSC has deployed a Judge of the High Court to commence court sittings this term.

The Chinhoyi Court is equipped with morden furniture and technology of superior quality for conducting virtual hearings.

Magistrate and High Court judges have been trained by the Ministry of Information and Technology, Postal and Courier Sevices.

The capacity building programme has equipped all personnel for the upcoming virtual court hearing and paperless administration of courts in a bid to beat the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce logistical costs and delays in transport and record keeping.

The system is said to be able to detect repeated offenders.

The Losses

Constitutional Court

 

In 2020 Con Court finalised 43 cases while in 2021 the courts finalised 24 cases.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court in 2020 received 718 cases and 619 cases in 2021.

The courts finalised 733 cases in 2020 and 519 cases in 2021.

High Court

High Courts closed 2021 with 2 864 less cases than in 2020. The courts had a backlog of about 1 274 cases in 2020 and 1 217 cases in 2021.

Although the backlog seems lesser in 2021 it does not necessarily reflect that more work was done.

Labour Court

Labour Court is similar to High Court performance rates due to being subdued by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. In 2020 the courts received 1 469 cases against the 1 185 cases of in 2021.

They also completed 1 599 cases in 2020 against 1 250 cases in 2021.

Administrative Court

 

The work load received in 2020 by Administrative Court was 89 cases while in 2021 they received 63 cases.

 

Completed cases decreased by 37 percent as cases are being turned over into 2022.

 

Magistrates Court

 

The most important tier in the judicial system that deals with most of the crimes faced serious backlogs due to temporary closure of the courts due to lockdown restrictions.

In 2020 Magistrate courts received 5 450 cases which decreased in 2021 to 4 063 cases.

The courts recorded a decrease of 938 completed cases.

They also registered a 442 case increase in backlog.

Case clearance rate in 2020 was at 80 percent and at 69 percent in 2021.

 

As the world moves to the new normal, there is an expectation that there will be better flow of cases and their timely management.

They year 2021 was a difficult year for most due to Covid-19, but the country`s judiciary did not grind to a halt.