THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has called for the construction of a new civil court building in Harare to replace the current structure, which has become obsolete and insecure.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The JSC made the call in its 2017 annual report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
“The courthouse is accommodated in a composite government building that has been condemned, and due to that condemnation, there is no
budget for its refurbishment or renovation and there is general dilapidation at the complex that has been deepening due to years of neglect,” the JSC report read.
“Security is lax generally and theft of office equipment is rife to such an extent that the commission’s information technology (IT) department could not instal case tracking computers at the station as on a number of occasions, the offices have been broken into and equipment stolen
JSC said there were also charlatans, who flooded the courts pretending to be lawyers and offering illicit legal services.
“There is perennial congestion at the complex with legitimate visitors and those who prey on litigants offering unsolicited and illicit legal advice. There is no one ministry or government department that is responsible for the general outlook of the complex and one government department is using its section of the complex to run a public bar. The long-term solution to the accommodation woes of the Harare Civil Court is to construct the civil court next to the criminal court at Rotten Row.”
The report also showed that approximately 91 000 civil cases are heard at the Harare Magistrates’ Court every year, including around 83 000 criminal cases.
On criminal cases, the report said there was a decrease from 95 000 cases heard countrywide in 2016 to 83 356 in 2017.
“There was also a decrease in the number of civil cases filed from 91 103 to 88 129 cases in 2017. Of the 171 485 cases, the magistrates’ courts finalised 171 370, leaving the backlog at 3 714 cases, compared to the 45 000 cases backlog of 2014.”
The High Court was said to have completed 24 568 cases in 2017, up from 23 600 in 2016, while cases received in the Supreme Court increased from 712 in 2016 to 1 002 in 2017.
“The number of cases filed with the Constitutional Court has been steadily dropping over the years. In 2015, 101 cases were filed. These dropped to 76 in 2016 and to 70 in 2017,” the report said.