Epworth Magistrates Court ready to open Senior officials from the Judicial Service Commission tour the recently completed Epworth Magistrates Court yesterday. — Picture: Lynn Munjanja

Yeukai Karengezeka Herald Correspondent

The newly built Epworth Magistrates Court will be open on February 24, Judicial Service Commission (JSC) secretary Mr Walter Chikwanha said yesterday after touring the complex with other senior managers from the commission.

The greater part of the work has been done. All the offices now have electricity, are tiled and painted, with the landscaping expected to be completed within the next few days.

Mr Chikwanha said everything was near completion and the court will open on February 24, barring any eventualities.

“We came here to assess progress made, if it is according to the agreed timelines, to ensure that we meet the target,” he said.

“This project is almost done, we are now working on the finishing touches and we are targeting to open this court in the last week of February.”

The Epworth complex main building consists of two court courtrooms for two magistrate courts, with eight offices and ablution facilities.

Since it will be handling criminal cases, the holding cells, which match Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) specifications, are now complete, with bars fitted and the necessary sections for men, women and juveniles.

The next of the new magistrates courts to be built, said Mr Chikwanha, would be Cowdray Park Magistrates Court in Bulawayo, followed by some other areas.

“We are starting work on Cowdray park in Bulawayo,” he said.

“We hope that by the first of March, the contractor would be on site. We are also planning to move to Mukoba, Highfield, Gweru, Mutare for starters and we are working with the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works together with local authorities to access land.”

The construction of magistrates courts in suburbs is in line with the Government’s quest to take justice delivery systems to the people.

The initiative dovetails with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

Epworth residents were pleased that the Government was bringing the courts to their doorsteps.

“Courts coming close to us is a great initiative,” said 70-year-old Mrs Paida Mhanzi.

“Now, if there are criminals in the area we know for certain justice will be served. It was a challenge to travel to courts elsewhere, especially for people of my age and we ended up losing cases.”

Another resident Mr Temba Marere said it was cost-effective to have a court in their area.

“We are happy that we now have been saved from travelling expenses to Harare city centre,” he said.

“Now we know everything is being done under one roof, we know we are quick to get help.”

Mrs Merjury Muzenda said the establishment of the court was more beneficial to women who often suffered in silence and did not report cases of abuse to the police because of lack of sufficient resources to follow through with their cases in far away courts.

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