Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
About $9 million is needed for the completion of the new Chinhoyi Magistrates’ Court, where construction work stalled eight years ago due to funding constraints.
The new courts are expected to ease space challenges for both court sittings and staff offices.
Currently housed at the old Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, the makeshift courts have only three courtrooms and a few rooms that are used as offices.
Court sessions are sometimes conducted at the Makonde district administrator’s offices during busy periods, while the civil courts, includin0g one court room and the clerks’ office are housed at another Government complex.
A court official who preferred anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the Press said the situation was untenable as up to three magistrates share an office, while more than six interpreters use a single office.
“The situation is quite uncomfortable as we are crammed in small offices, while the courtrooms are too small for court officials including lawyers during court sessions, let alone people in the gallery,” said the member of staff.
The crammed environment, said another member of staff, makes it difficult to offer quality service to clients.
All regional cases such as rape, murder and robbery from the province are dealt with at the courts, making them one of the busiest.
The scarcity of space has contributed to the backlog in cases as magistrates take turns to hear their cases.
The contractors abandoned the site at the height of the hyperinflation era in 2008, while the double storey building was nearing the roofing stage.
Public works provincial officer in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Mr Trymore Mutizwa confirmed the situation.
“Its a project that should have been completed a long time ago but had to be shelved due to unavailability of funds from central Government over the years,” he said.
Mr Mutizwa said the $9 million will see the completion of the building, where acts of vandalism have also reversed some of the gains registered during construction.
Some of the window frames that had been fitted were stolen while overgrown grass and trees have affected the outlook of the construction site.
Construction work at the massive court, which is expected to have eight courtrooms and several offices upon completion started sometime in 2005.
The Chinhoyi Magistrates’ Court moved to the current location after the old court was destroyed by a mysterious fire.
It has since been refurbished and now houses the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission provincial offices.