Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Bulawayo High Court needs an additional judge to alleviate pressure of work on those deployed in the city, a High Court Judge has said.
Officially opening the 2023 Gweru High Court Circuit on Monday, Bulawayo High Court Judge Justice Martin Makonese said the workload at the station is increasing for the five judges working in Bulawayo.
“With the ever-increasing volume of work the High Court needs an additional judge to alleviate the pressure of work on the judges,” said Justice Makonese.
He said inspite of concerted efforts by judges to deal with all matters allocated to them, the volume of new cases filed continues to increase.
“As more people are able to access the courts the workload is unlikely to decrease,” said Justice Makonese.
He said statistics for the Bulawayo High Court for the period January to December 2022 indicate that 94 cases, 62 civil and 32 criminal cases were rolled over from 2021.
Justice Makonese said a total of 2 299 civil and 4 696 criminal cases were received last year.
“A total of 2 299 civil matters were received and 2 276 completed. A total of 4 696 criminal cases were received and 4 637 completed. There are still pending cases from 2022 that are supposed to be dealt with,” said Justice Makonese.
He said at the Gweru High Court Circuit, he is going to deal with 17 murder cases within two weeks.
“At this circuit, a total of 17 murder cases have been set down. These cases must be completed within a period of two weeks. The general disposal rate of criminal cases at the Gweru High Court Circuit is generally satisfactory. This is attributed to the commitment of the National Prosecution Authority, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, legal practitioners, the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Service and all stakeholders involved,” said Justice Makonese.
Although some concern has been raised over long outstanding criminal matters, he said, some of the challenges that have been experienced include the non-availability of State witnesses and failure to locate accused persons who would have been granted bail pending trial.
“It is however necessary for solutions to be found and implemented for finalisation of criminal trials that are ready for trial. In terms of Section 69 (l) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, every person accused of an offence has the right to a fair and public trial within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial court. It is hoped, therefore, that viable solutions shall be put in place during this legal year for the reduction of all outstanding criminal matters,” said Justice Makonese.
He said it is the duty of every legal practitioner to endeavour to curb every tendency of discourtesy in all relationships, professional and otherwise.
“The temptation to write insulting letters to fellow legal practitioners is to be resisted,” said Justice Makonese.
Last year, he said, a number of significant reforms were achieved in both infrastructural and technological reforms.
“The Judicial Service Commission launched the Integrated Electronic Management System (ICEMS). This saw the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and Commercial Court (a division of the High Court) going digital. Various courts around the country were refurbished. In Matabeleland North Province the Lupane Magistrates’ Court was officially opened by Chief Justice Luke Malaba in September 2022,” he said.