Nyore Madzianike Senior Court Reporter
ELEVEN more magistrates were sworn in yesterday, bringing the total to 247 and ensuring ever wider access to the basic justice available from these courts that handle the bulk of criminal and civil cases.
They were sworn in by Chief Magistrate Faith Mushure in Harare.
Mrs Mushure said almost every court station now had at least two magistrates minus Inyati, Matabeleland North, which has one because of lack of space to accommodate another magistrate.
“The Judicial Service Commission has several projects which are currently underway. We have Lupane courts which we hope to open soon maybe in the second quarter.
“We have Epworth which is at roof level. Gwanda has been lying idle for a long time and we’re happy that the contractor has moved on site and has resumed work.
“We have plans to have court in Glen Norah and we are engaging Harare city council for a suitable site. We have been given a hall but it had other uses and we are now engaging them for another site,” she said.
Mrs Mushure said magistrates courts had recorded an increase in cases since they resumed full operation following breaks induced by the Covid-19 lockdown beginning 2020.
“There have been an increased number of cases. For example, in the fourth quarter of 2021 provincial criminal courts received 22 510 cases and during the first quarter of 2022 they received 24 631.
“Civil courts fourth quarter 2021 received 19 147 cases and in the first quarter 2022 there were 28 227. There is a marked increase by almost 10 000 cases in the Civil Court,” she said.
Mrs Mushure said Zvishavane and Mt Darwin have now been designated as regional courts, allowing the top level of magistrates to preside, and more magistrates have been added to other courts like Mutare.
She also noted that the magistrates courts will have facilities available for the new e-filing system for the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and the Commercial Division of the High Court. While cases in magistrates courts will not yet be filed electronically, the courts are near a lot of people and so have been designated as points where those without internet access can file for the higher courts.
Mrs Mushure said the new system was one of the JSC’s way of trying to reduce case backlogs and improve justice delivery in the country.
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