JSC FORCED TO ACT ON INSENSITIVE TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE AFTER ZLHR’S PROTEST

Source: JSC FORCED TO ACT ON INSENSITIVE TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE AFTER ZLHR’S PROTEST

THE JUDICIAL Service Commission (JSC) has sprung into action by assuring an aggrieved victim of assault that it has adequate sign language interpreters, who can assist him during the trial of an aggressor, after it had stalled for close to one year.

The trial of Tendayi Nyambuya, the Headmaster at Kachimana Primary School in Mudzi in Mashonaland East province, on allegations of assaulting Kudzanayi Karota, who lives with a disability, had been halted since March, after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) withdrew charges before plea, preferred against the school head, who had been scheduled to stand trial answering to charges of assault as defined in section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

When he appeared in court in 2023, Nyambuya was accused of assaulting Karota, who was one of the people who were in attendance at a School Development Committee meeting held at Kachimani Primary School, where the school head had an altercation with a fellow teacher during the meeting in the presence of parents and guardians.

Karota was reportedly shoved by Nyambuya and fell on the ground resulting in him sustaining an injury on his hand.

Karota then engaged Kelvin Kabaya and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who on 24 January 2024, wrote a complaint letter to Magistrate Sekai Chiwundura, who is the Provincial Head for Mashonaland East province, under which Mutoko Magistrates Court falls, protesting against gross travesty of justice and complaining about the withdrawal of the charges before plea, by the NPA, whose prosecutors argued that it was meant to enable the Magistrate to secure an interpreter to assist Karota, the complainant in the matter, who suffers from a speech impairment.

Kabaya and Chinopfukutwa charged that since the withdrawal of the charges and the stoppage of the assault trial in March 2023, the matter had not been re-enrolled and an interpreter had not been appointed for purposes of commencement of the trial of Nyambuya.

The human rights lawyers protested that the inordinate delay in the commencement of the trial of Nyambuya violated Karota’s right to equal protection and benefit of the law and the right to access to the courts as provided for in section 56 and 69 of the Constitution.

The human rights lawyers asked the Resident Magistrate to take immediate steps to appoint a requisite interpreter to facilitate the commencement of Nyambuya’s trial.

Kabaya and Chinopfukutwa reminded the Resident Magistrate to bear in mind the individualised needs of Karota so as to ensure that she will be able to understand and follow court proceedings due to the unique nature of her disability.

The lawyers asked the Regional Magistrate to consider invoking the provisions of section 319A-H of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which entails appointing an intermediary or support person for Karota, for purposes of trial and to also consider an expert assessment in order to ascertain the nature and extent of her impairment, the nature and extent of her communication skills, and how to maximise effective communication with the court.

In response to the letter of complaint, Magistrate Chiwundura assured Karota’s lawyers that she had since advised the NPA that the JSC has some sign language interpreters in its employ, who are ready to offer their services during Nyambuya’s trial.

Magistrate Chiwundura made a guarantee that whenever the NPA is ready to set down Nyambuya’s matter for trial, the JSC will facilitate the availability of sign language interpreters to assist with the provision of their essential interpretation services.

ENDS

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
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www.zlhr.org.zw
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