JSC considers opening more courts in Mat North

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is considering establishing resident magistrates’ courts in areas such as Kamativi and Dete as part of its effort to improve the justice delivery system in the vast Matabeleland North Province, where citizens still travel long distances to access courts.

The province is currently serviced by four magistrates’ courts situated in Victoria Falls, Hwange, Binga and of late Lupane.

Speaking during the official opening of the 2023 legal year in Bulawayo Monday, Deputy Chief Justice, Elizabeth Gwaunza said despite the opening of a new magistrates’ court in Lupane last year more courts were still needed in Matabeleland North.

“It must be noted that, despite this notable achievement, there is still scope for improvement in Matabeleland North Province,” said Gwaunza.

“This is observable from the fact that, at present, the province has only four operational magistrates’ court stations. The stations are wholly insufficient to fully accommodate the interests of the large population located in the province. The people in the province are having to travel long distances to access the nearest court. This is not ideal.”

The Deputy Chief Justice elaborated: “In this regard, the Judicial Service Commission is considering opening resident magistrates’ courts at places such as Dete and Kamativi. The institution of the modalities for opening an additional court in the province is to be undertaken without delay.”

Meanwhile, the JSC said it continued with the development programme with the resumption of construction at the Gwanda Magistrates’ Court Complex in May 2022. 

“This was after a decade-long halt due to budgetary constraints,” said Gwaunza.

“The anticipated commissioning of the facility in 2023 will alleviate the institutional challenges being experienced at the station. At present, the entire court station relies on three courtrooms to service all its functions.”

The reason for outlining the ongoing projects, Gwaunza said, is to reinforce the fact that the Judiciary relies on financial support from the government to be able to deliver on its mandate.

“The success stories in respect of court infrastructure from Bristol House in Harare to Lupane in Matabeleland North that were recorded in 2022 would not have been possible without the support of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works,” she said.

“Although the Judicial Service Commission is grateful for the funding received during the period under review, it must be observed that it is undesirable for the Judiciary to be placed in a position in which it has to beseech Treasury to avail funds for its operations, particularly when appropriation of the budgeted funds would have been approved by Parliament.”

She added: “As suggested in previous addresses at the opening of the legal year, block releases of funds on a quarterly basis may be the best solution to the problem.”

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