Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
Chief magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe last Friday bemoaned the critical shortage of magistrates in the country and urged Treasury to lift the job freeze.
Speaking at the swearing-in of three magistrates at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts, Mr Guvamombe said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) could not recruit due to the job freeze, but has 49 vacancies for magistrates.
The new magistrates are Perseverance Nkala (28), Isabel Nyoni (28) and Amanda Muridzo (29).
Mr Guvamombe said; “Out of the authorised 250 magistrates, only 201 are employed. There are 49 vacancies due to the job freeze imposed by the Treasury. We cannot recruit.
“About 13 magistrates are acting in different capacities in the JSC. We urge the authorities to lift the freeze so that more magistrates can be employed.
“The JSC secretariat is seized with the matter and I am aware of efforts being made to engage Treasury. We await with bated breath the outcome of that engagement.”
Mr Guvamombe advised the new magistrates to desist from corruption.
“I urge you to resist it in whatever form it may be exposed to you, he said. If you are caught engaging in corruption, the consequences are clear and very predictable.
“Even though the working conditions are poor, that is not a licence for you to engage in corruption.”
On the backlog of cases, Mr Guvamombe urged the magistrates not to remand and postpone matters unnecessarily.
He advised the new magistrates that transfers were part and parcel of their occupation.
“The department is critically short of manpower, you will be deployed where work is, married or not,” said Mr Guvamombe.
“Citizens out of Harare and Bulawayo also deserve justice. We have 52 resident courts in the country which require your services.
“Do not rush to imprison people for trivial offences. Imprisonment should be the last resort.”
Acting Prosecutor-General Ray Goba shared his personal experiences with the new magistrates.
“Not only will you be required to judge the guilty, but you will also judge the credibility of witnesses called to testify by the State,” said Mr Goba.
“You should accept criticism as a logical and natural incidence of the functions that you perform. As long as you err or misdirect yourself in genuine error of law or fact, you should not worry. Listen always to your inner voice.
“Some lawyers will make applications raising constitutional issues simply to frustrate, delay the day of reckoning for their clients, do not be intimidated.”