THE Bulawayo High Court opened its 2019 legal year, Monday, amid protests which forced the event to start a few hours later.
The proceedings were delayed as police battled to control protesters who had gathered outside the court building protesting against government`s decision to increase fuel prices.
The Deputy Chief Justice, Elizabeth Gwaunza, who was officiating at the event praised the local judicial officers for speedily disposing cases placed before them.
Justice Gwaunza said the judiciary is supposed to perform its judicial duties efficiently and with reasonable promptness.
“The old adage ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ rings true. When cases are brought before the courts the public expects that they be expeditiously and correctly dealt with. Plain and simple, this is notwithstanding implicit barriers not visible to the ordinary man on the street,” Gwaunza noted.
“Statistics data in the status cases in any court give an opportunity for the judiciary other key stakeholders in the justice delivery system and the public at large to analyse the performance of the courts the date enables a crucial process of planning for the future to either maintain a given momentum to improve where gaps are noted.”
The deputy chief justice noted that the Bulawayo High Court had done well in the period under review.
“The station received a consolidated total of 4785 matters in addition to the existing backlog and completed 4971 matters, thus eating into the backlog carried forward from 2017. This was despite the fact that the Bulawayo High court bench dwindled from six judges to four judges.
I must congratulate the judges under the able leadership of Senior Judge Justice Martin Makonese coupled cooperation of the legal profession and the staff on dealing with the backlog against such odds.
“I am glad the Honourable Chief Justice and the Honourable Judge President are aware of the constraints faced by this leaner bench and the Honourable Chief Justice has made a call for an expanded bench to lessen the burden,” she said.
The Bulawayo Labour Court, Justice Gwaunza, noted, also performed well in the period under review.
“A total of 790 matters were completed. The magistrate’s courts also performed fairly well, with the western division receiving 736 matters and completing 698 cases,” Justice Gwaunza said.
The deputy chief justice said Bulawayo province received 21 465 matters and 21 486 were completed thus reducing the overall backlog of the province.
“Marginal increases in backlog were recorded in Midlands which received a total of 18126 cases during the course of 2018 and completed 18 008 cases. In Matabeleland North 2427 cases were completed against 2475 received cases. Overall these marginal increases do not take away the hard work put in by the magistrates to dispose the cases placed before them, I commend them for job well done,” she said.
Gwaunza also expressed gratitude to the support received from treasury in 2017, as the courts were authorized to recruit 233 staff members.
“Our human capital had been severely depleted by the blanket freeze on recruitment of staff and the authority to recruit was therefore not only timely but also a very necessary intervention. As a result a total of 20 magistrates made up of 11 female magistrates and nine male magistrates were deployed to Bulawayo Midlands Matabeleland North and South. We were also able to open the Plumtree ad Beitbridge regional courts these will go a long way in making sure there is prompt and efficient justice is availed to the people of Zimbabwe,” said the deputy chief justice.