Walter Mswazie, Masvingo Correspondent
SUPREME Court Judge Justice Paddington Garwe has hailed Masvingo courts for expeditiously dealing with the cases during the 2018 legal year.
Officially opening the 2019 legal year at the Masvingo High Court yesterday, Justice Garwe, who was flanked by Justices Garainesu Mawadze and Joseph Mafusire of the Masvingo High Court, said the courts significantly reduced the backlog of cases despite challenges involving inadequate staff and working space.
“Generally speaking, there is a discernible reduction in the backlog at the Supreme and Constitutional Court, the High Court, the Labour Court and the Magistrates’ Court.
“The clearance rate at the Masvingo High Court for 2018 is 89 percent and 92 percent for civil and criminal cases respectively,” said Justice Garwe.
He said civil cases at the Masvingo High Court commenced the 2018 legal year with 69 pending cases.
A total of 422 new cases were received at the court.
“As at November 30 in 2018, 436 of those cases had been disposed of, leaving 55 uncompleted cases. In the Masvingo High Court Criminal Division, the year 2018 commenced with 91 pending cases. A total of 947 new cases were received, giving a combined total of 1038 cases. Of these, 951 cases were completed by November, 30, 2018, leaving a total of 87 uncompleted cases,” he said.
“Clearly this is a busy court and in time there will be need for the current complement of judges to be increased. I say well done to the two judges, Justices Mawadze and Mafusire who are stationed here. We hope that during this year you will work even harder and reduce the backlog even further.”
Justice Garwe said in the Regional Central Division, which comprises Masvingo and Midlands provinces, the year 2018 commenced with 11 cases.
“In the same year, 688 new cases were received giving a combined total figure of 699. Of that figure, 685 cases were completed by the end of 2018, leaving 14 cases uncompleted.”
He said the Magistrate court in the province started the year with 431 cases and received 15 190 new cases, giving a total of 15 621.
Of that figure, 167 cases were completed by December 2018, leaving a total of 454 uncompleted cases.
“Although the figures suggest a slight increase in the backlog, it is also clear that the Magistrates Court did very well. As we commence the 2019 legal year, I urge all judicial officers and other stakeholders involved in the administration of justice to work even harder this year so that justice is not delayed,” he said.
“It is always important for litigants to know, as soon as is practicable, the fate of their civil actions or criminal prosecution. I am aware that, as an institution, we face human resources and financial constraints, but, this notwithstanding, let us continue to fulfill our mandate to dispense justice fairly and quickly to all inhabitants of this beautiful country.”
Justice Garwe said the JSC has resolved to address the issue of inadequate resources and conditions of service.
He said plans were underway to construct a police guardroom and an office for the Sheriff of the High Court within the same complex.
The judge said there also a need for inter-agency co-operation among all stakeholders in the administration of justice.