By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
13 January 2013
The 2014 legal year opened Monday with the High Court expected to hear 55 murder cases and two fraud cases during the first term, which ends on April 4th.
According to a Herald report last week all 55 murder cases lined up for trial involve suspects accused of killing someone over a trivial matter.
In the last three years people have been allegedly murdered over petty issues with the police recording an average of seven or more such cases under a week, the Herald said.
Speaking at the official opening of the legal year Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku hailed the new constitution, which was adopted last year, saying it stood to improve justice delivery.
This year’s theme is ‘Effective Service Delivery.’
Chidyausiku commended the Magistrates Court for reducing the backlog from 45,000 cases to 10,000 by the end of November 2013. Chidyausiku, however, lamented the ‘imbalance of the inflow and outflow of cases’ at both the High Court and the Labour Court.
Chidyausiku meanwhile said it is too early to judge the performance of the Constitutional Court because there are no previous years to use in comparison. The Court, which was introduced through the new constitution in March 2013, received a total of 81 matters in just nine months of its existence by the year end.
According to the Herald, Chidyausiku attributed the influx of cases to the July 31st election which saw many political and interparty disputes brought before the courts.
On the Supreme Court Chidyausiku said a total of 522 appeals were recorded in 2013 adding that it is ‘achievable’ to clear the backlog. He claimed that by the mid-year the court would be dealing with current issues.
Since his appointment in 13 years ago Chidyausiku has been promising improved service and yet the situation has remained the same. Instead the police continue to add more cases by routinely dragging people to court on flimsy charges.
It is not unusual for a case to remain pending in the courts for years only for the magistrate to find that the accused has no case to answer.