GOVERNMENT is set to open more magistrate courts in Matabeleland North to afford communities in the region better access to judiciary services.
This was said on Monday by deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza at the official opening of the 2023 legal year in Bulawayo.
She said the province has only four operational magistrate courts which she said are insufficient.
“There is still scope for improvement in Matabeleland North province. This is observable from the fact that, at present, the province has only four operational magistrates’ court stations. These are located in Victoria Falls, Hwange, Binga and the recently commissioned Lupane court complex,’’ said Gwaunza.
“The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) is considering opening resident magistrates’ courts at places such as Dete and Kamativi. The institution of the modalities for opening an additional court in the Province is to be undertaken without delay
“The stations are wholly insufficient to fully accommodate the interests of the large population located in the province. The people in the province are having to travel long distances to access the nearest court.”
She added: “Court operations were stifled, as both the judicial officers and the support staff members worked in an unattractive environment that did not inspire public confidence in the Judiciary. This in turn affected the ability to perform their duties efficiently.”
Gwaunza also indicated that the official opening of the Lupane court in September last year was testimony to the continued transformation of court infrastructure in line with the policy of the JSC of putting in place measures to ensure easy access to justice for every citizen.
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She indicated that the event was significant because previously the facilities used by the magistrate court sitting at Lupane were three offices belonging to the District Development Co-ordinator.