Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is seeking land to build three new criminal magistrates’ courts in Epworth, Mabvuku and Budiriro in Harare as part of efforts to make justice more accessible to all.
Harare has two criminal courts at Mbare and Rotten Row Building, but JSC now wants to de-congest the two stations through decentralisation.
JSC acting secretary Mr Walter Chikwana said the commission had requested a meeting with Harare City Council to discuss the possibilities of getting land or at least disused council buildings to renovate and customise into court rooms.
The commission engaged the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for assistance in securing accommodation for the new courts.
“We have since requested a meeting with the mayor to discuss the accommodation issue,” said Mr Chikwana.
“Anytime soon we will be meeting the mayor and his team. We need land or even council buildings to refurbish and turn into court stations.
“We also wrote to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for assistance and we hope our request will be heard.”
JSC last month announced plans to decentralise and establish more criminal courts in Harare’s populous suburbs to cope with the high crime rate.
Officially opening the 2019 legal year in Harare on Monday, Chief Justice Luke Malaba said new court stations will be set up in Mabvuku, Epworth and Budiriro.
“The facilities at the two criminal courts (Mbare and Rotten Row) can no longer cope with the workload coming from the numerous police stations in and around the city,” he said.
“There is, therefore, a need to increase the number of courts servicing Harare Metropolitan.
“To that end, I have instructed the Acting Secretary (for JSC) to engage all the relevant stakeholders, including Harare City Council, so that we decentralise operations to populous places like Mabvuku, Tafara, Epworth, Budiriro and others.”
Chief Justice Malaba said the city’s population was ballooning, hence the need for more courts.
“While the city has been expanding and its population increasing over the last decades, there has not been a corresponding increase in court facilities,” he said.
JSC last year, he said, acquired a more spacious building to accommodate the Labour Court along Rotten Row in Harare.
Chief Justice Malaba said the commission acquired Bristols Building along Kwame Nkrumah Avenue to house the Commercial Court.
The Commercial Court is a division of the High Court that deals with all business-related disputes in line with Government’s thrust of improving ease of doing business in the country.