‘Masvingo High Court understaffed’ 

Source: ‘Masvingo High Court understaffed’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe

THE backlog of unresolved court cases in Masvingo is set to increase after one of the three judges in the city, Justice Neville Wamambo, was transferred to Harare last month.

Officially opening the 2022 legal year at the Masvingo High Court on Monday, Justice Paddington Garwe described the development as “unfortunate”.

“An unfortunate development is that one of the three judges who were manning the Masvingo High Court has now been transferred to Harare. This, sadly, means considerable pressure on the two remaining judges who must continue to deal with all the civil and criminal cases, as well as criminal reviews,” he said.

One hopes that the situation will be addressed shortly so that the court can continue to operate normally. The judges had been working hard and I hope the temporary loss of one of the judges will not see a rise in outstanding cases at the High Court.”

Justice Garwe said the Masvingo High Court civil division had 18 outstanding cases from the year 2020 and received 406 matters, bringing the total workload to 424 matters last year. He said 382 cases were completed, leaving a backlog of 42 matters by the end of 2021.

The High Court’s criminal division received 967 matters last year, which added to the 11 outstanding matters, making the workload rise to 978. Of that figure, 966 were completed by the end of 2021, leaving a backlog of 12.

Justice Garwe bemoaned lack of working space at the Masvingo High Court.

“I am aware that Masvingo High Court building is small and there is a serious shortage of office space. At some stage, there will be need for the expansion of the court premises so that the court can fully discharge its mandate,” he said.

“This is a matter that I believe the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is fully aware of but out of abundance of caution, I will also ensure that the extent of the problem is once again brought to the attention of the JSC so that the matter can receive the same priority.”

Meanwhile, the Masvingo Magistrates Court’s criminal division started the year 2021 with 325 pending cases, and received 5 203 more cases last year.

The total workload increased to 5 528 matters. Of these, 5 090 matters were completed.

The same court’s civil division opened the year 2021 with 68 outstanding cases and received 2 120 more cases in the same year.

The total workload rose to 2 188 cases. Of these, 2 114 matters were completed.