Story by Tichaona Kurewa
Magistrates from across the country are attending the inaugural National Magistrate Conference in Victoria Falls where combating corruption, adherence to expected judicial conduct and deterrent sentences are set to take centre stage.
The three-day conference has been organised by the Judicial Service Commission.
The conference, being attended by over 200 magistrates from across the country is focusing on building a competent judiciary that inspires public confidence through improved quality of service.
Speaking during the official opening of the conference this Thursday, Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga called for deterrent sentences to reduce criminal activity in the country.
“Permit me to outline a few areas which I believe merit the attention of this inaugural conference especially given their impact on the administration of justice. These include backlog or delay in finalisation of criminal cases, granting of bail to unsuitable accused persons, the welfare of witnesses or witness expenses, deterrent sentences to discourage people from committing crimes and others,” he said.
The National Prosecuting Authority commended the government for decentralising the justice delivery system.
“The decentralisation of courts has helped in reducing costs related to travelling and this has also reduced the default rate by the accused persons and witnesses,” noted the Acting Prosecutor General, Mr Nelson Mutsonziwa.
Government reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring justice is served.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mrs Virginia Mabhiza said, “I wish to acknowledge and appreciate the expansion and construction of new Magistrates courts across the country, especially in previously marginalised areas. Recently, we have witnessed the opening of the new Magistrates Court at Epworth. Clearly, the judiciary is leaving no one and no place behind in their quest to enhance justice delivery.”
Chief Justice Luke Malaba implored the judiciary to shun corruption.
“The obligation of delivering quality justice is no light matter. A quality judiciary upholds the rule of law. In turn, where the rule of law is observed, citizens can depend on the courts for the protection of their fundamental human rights and the development of a constitutional democracy built on the fundamental value of justice,” he noted.
The conference is also being attended by Namibia’s Deputy Chief Justice, Mrs Vennesa Stanley, Law Society of Zimbabwe officials and others within the justice delivery system.