Assign cops to guard magistrates: Chinotimba

Parliamentarians have expressed concern over the government’s failure to provide secure accommodation for magistrates, citing that living among the general public is risky for judicial officers. 

The legislators during the Question and Answer session, Wednesday, implored the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to ensure that magistrates are accorded secure accommodation, where they do not mingle with the general public. 

Mberengwa North MP Tafanana Zhou said the duties of judiciary officers are delicate and constant mingling with the community compromises delivery of Justice. 

“My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. What is the Government’s position regards to the magistrates’ accommodation where they do not mingle around with members of the public?” Zhou asked. 

“Most of our magistrates are staying at their own rented houses out of work stations where they even do cleaning duties with the other people, which I think compromises our justice delivery system that requires public trust and confidence in the rule of law.”

Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna implored the ministry to reintroduce the system where magistrates would be housed at secure places such as prison complexes and other similar cantonment areas. 

Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba suggested that the ministry allocates a police officer for each magistrate for security. 

“Is it not possible for our judges and magistrates to be protected in the areas where they reside?  Why can we not provide each magistrate with a police officer for his protection and security because they face challenges from people they will have sentenced?” Chinotimba suggested. 

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said efforts are being made to ensure that the Ministry of National Housing issues institutional accommodation facilities for judicial officers. 

“Indeed we have several magistrates who live within the community and some in rented accommodation, which is not ideal.  What we are doing is we are coming up with a plan in conjunction with the Ministry of National Housing of having institutional accommodation for some of our Magistrates. This is work in progress, we are going to ensure that we remove them from rented accommodation that may compromise them,” Minister Ziyambi said. 

He also explained that it is a challenge to house the magistrates at prison complexes at the moment as the facilities are struggling with accommodation for their staff.

“Our thrust is to ensure that we build institutional accommodation that is secure not necessarily within the complex of the prison and ensure that we avail institutional accommodation to our judicial officers,” he said. 

“I have heard Hon. Chinotimba’s concern that every magistrate should be availed a police officer for his security.  Our aim is to ensure that we build houses and where we see that they should be protected, we then put police officers to ensure their security.”

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