Murder and domestic violence cases that have been brought before courts in Harare and its satellite towns have dropped in the first six months of this year, it has been learnt.
While 1 000 cases of domestic violence have been heard before the Harare Magistrates’ Court in the six-month period to June, they represent a 14 percent drop from the 1 160 cases in the same period last year.
Similarly, murder cases dropped to 49 from 52 cases a year earlier.
Official statistics from the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) show that most domestic violence cases – 403 – were heard at the Mbare Magistrates’ Court.
The reported cases resulted in 446 convictions,
176 acquittals, while 284 are pending.
Of the murder cases, Harare, Mbare and Chitungwiza courts handled 33, nine and four, respectively.
Three were processed by the Norton court.
Acting chief magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi, however, noted the statistics on murder cases do not include those “indicted to the High Court for 2019”.
An indictment is a charge made at the High Court for a serious offence.
“This does not mean no one was indicted this year. It is because murder cases are complex offences that take time to investigate.
“It would, therefore, be impossible for any matter reported in 2019 to have had investigations completed and the accused indicted, all within six months from January 2019,” said Mr Mutevedzi.
“Those who were indicted in 2019 are for records in 2018 going backwards. The number of records indicted to High Court in 2018 equals the number of cases received for the same period, yet we still have pending cases in the same year.
“That is because some cases indicted in 2018 were from the previous years,” he said.
Anti-Domestic Violence Council chair Ms Eunice Njovana said cultural practices remain a challenge in the fight against domestic violence.
The council is a statutory body established in terms of Section 16 of the Domestic Violence Act of 2007.
“The reasons why we continue to grapple with domestic violence are many.
“A lot of them are cultural; that is to do with customs and traditions that say a woman is owned by a man and, therefore, men can do whatever they want with a woman, including abusing them, and it is condoned,” said Ms Njovana.
Current challenges plaguing the economy, she said, were breeding family feuds, which normally resulted in domestic violence.
“Today a lot of households, economically, are being headed by women through their informal trade and small businesses.
“They are supporting men and children in houses; sometimes there is deliberate effort to put down that woman by putting her in her place, so to speak; to say that you can be providing for us but you are still under me.
“So you find a lot of husbands are abusing their women by virtue of their inability to cope, so they take it out on women.”
Even if Government has put deterrent laws to stem the scourge, there is still a misconception that domestic matters should be handled in private, she added.
A recent study by the United Nations Population Fund showed that in Zimbabwe, about one in three women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about one in four women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.