HomeLocal NewsZimbabwe: ‘Over 2 000 convicts walk free’

Zimbabwe: ‘Over 2 000 convicts walk free’

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There are more than 2 000 convicted criminals who are walking free in Zimbabwe having obtained custodian reprieve through bail pending appeal applications, it has emerged.

Read more CHARLES LAITON SENIOR COURT REPORTER

The figures have grown so high because of delays in processing the matters at the High and Supreme Courts where appeals are heard.

Addressing journalists at the High Court in Harare yesterday, Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) deputy secretary Rex Shana said operations at the two courts were being hampered by the shortage of transcribers and the use of old model recording machines at the magistrates’ courts countrywide.

Convicted criminals such as armed robbers, rapists, car-jackers, housebreakers and many other offenders, who were granted bail pending appeal, have since taken advantage of the current state of affairs and skipped the jurisdiction of the courts, Shana said.

He further said the JSC was in the process of acquiring state-of-the-art recording and transcribing machines to try and speed up the appeal process, but the commission was operating on a hamstrung budget.

“We have over 2 000 appeal pending matters from the magistrates’ courts to the High Court and 122 appeal pending cases from the High Court to the Supreme Court.

“It is also expensive to process these appeals since it cost $1 per page to transcribe and some of the court records are so voluminous they require a lot of money,” Shana said.

Shana said there were only 32 transcribers countrywide out of the required 48.

He said the vacant posts could not be filled because of the blanket freeze of government jobs.Turning to the archaic recording machinery he said: “So much time is wasted while transcribers try to listen to the court recordings which are most of the times inaudible.”

The JSC deputy secretary further said judges who presided over the appeals were also expected to deal with other court businesses and as such, appeals were not entertained with speed.

“Every Thursday the registrar sets down 12 appeal matters and you can imagine how long it will take for the courts to entertain thousands of appeals waiting to be heard,” Shana said.

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