Friday, September 30, 2011

Zimbabwe Official Calls for Setting Up Rural Courts

Set up rural courts: Makarau

Friday, 30 September 2011 02:00

Judicial Service Commission Secretary Justice Rita Makarau inspected a cycle patrol unit during a police passout parade at Morris Depot in Harare yesterday

Herald Reporter

SUPREME Court judge Justice Rita Makarau has called for the establishment of more courts and circuit courts in the rural areas to ensure justice was accessible to all.

Justice Makarau, who is also secretary for the Judicial Service Commission, said the available courts were not enough to service the whole country.

She was addressing police officers at a passout parade where she was the reviewing officer at Morris Depot in Harare yesterday.

The judge said some rural communities were too far from the magistrates' courts hence the distance was likely to kill many cases as witnesses and suspects face transport problems.

She said the situation was worsened by the fact that police were not adequately resourced.

Police do not have adequate transport to take suspects and witnesses to distant courts and the roads in some areas were so bad hindering the delivery of justice.

"I am calling for more co-ordination between the police and the Judicial Service Commission in the establishment of courthouses and circuit courts to service the numerous police stations that you (Police Commissioner General) have commendably established throughout the country.

"It is a sad development, Commissioner General, that the development of police stations in rural Zimbabwe has not been matched by a corresponding development of courthouses within manageable distances," she said.

Justice Makarau gave an example of Guruve Magistrates' Court that handles matters from police stations as far Kanyemba, some 200 km away.

"The distance would not have mattered much if our rural police stations were adequately resourced and had efficient fleets of vehicles and our road networks were in the best of conditions," Justice Makarau said.

Some police officers, she said, travel by public transport to the court together with the accused persons and the witnesses and they get to court late after warrants of arrest would have been issued.

"They invariably arrive at the courts after 11am at which time a warrant of arrest would have been issued against the accused person.

"The court will have to re-sit after lunch firstly to cancel the warrant of arrest and then remand the trial to a future date when the circus is repeated again and again until some of the witnesses disappear or move to some untraceable parts of the country," she said.

The Herald is reliably informed that the JSC officers this year visited each and every province assessing the operations identifying the challenges affecting the delivery of justice.

Justice Makarau said the number of police stations in the rural areas did not match the number of courts servicing them.

The passout parade saw 315 recruits graduating after a six-month rigorous training.

Among them 63 were women. Justice Makarau hailed the police for their high training standards but suggested that more women should be recruited to ensure gender balance in the next squads.

Senior officers from the JSC including Justice Makarau her deputy Mr Rex Shana, Master of High Court Mr Charles Nyatanga, his deputy Mr Eldrad Mutasa, Supreme Court Registrar Ms Mazabani, Chief Magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe, among others, attended function.
Attorney General Mr Johannes Tomana and senior police officers were also present.

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