Murder cases dominate Chinhoyi High Court roll

Conrad Mupesa
Mashonaland West Bureau
THE country’s fifth permanent High Court centre with a resident judge, opened in Chinhoyi on Monday.

Th court was established following the successful commissioning of the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) state-of-the-art composite building by President Mnangagwa last year.

High Court Judge Justice Philda Muzofa, who started her duties as the first and so far the sole judge, is facing 63 cases, 39 of those being criminal matters.

She joins 43 High Court judges deployed across Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo, as well as to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.

Officiating at the opening of the 2022 legal year in Chinhoyi, Judge President Mary Zimba-Dube said the new High Court was overwhelmed with murder cases from across its catchment area with the National Prosecuting Authority having set down for trial 19 murder cases.

“The registry at Chinhoyi High Court has so far received 63 cases. The first term of the 2022 legal year, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has set down for trial 19 murder cases drawn from . . . Chinhoyi, Kadoma, Karoi, Mutorashanga, Zvimba, Chemagamba, Magunje, Kariba, Mhangura and Kenzamba.

“The number of cases is high and is testimony that the sanctity of life is not important to others as precious life is unnecessarily lost,” said Jusice Zimba-Dube before calling the pioneer judge to decisively deal with the matters.

Justice Zimba-Dube lamented the effects of Covid-19 which led to the loss of six months of court operations except for criminal remands and few urgent matters as the judicial service sought to abide by the World Health Organisation protocols.

“We were, however, unable to deploy the integrated electronic case management system in the courts by January 1 as promised because of challenges encountered during the course of the year which disrupted our work plans.

“The delays in deploying and testing the system were occasioned by the lockdowns and restrictions imposed to curb and curtail the spread of Covid-19.”

The JSC adopted the integrated electronic case management system which makes use of technology to enhance efficiency in the courts while addressing storage challenges. The system will also introduce electronic payments, automatic filing and end-to-end management of the life cycle of each case.

Intensive training within two months by an Armenian company, Synergy International Systems, and the JSC ICT team will be conducted for legal practitioners, the NPA, office of the Attorney General, ZACC, police and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service.

Justice Zimba-Dube expressed optimism for the full operationalisation of the Commercial Court division of the High Court by this legal year.

Having dedicated courts available for commercial cases, this  is expected to speed up the resolution of commercial disputes, and so fulfil the policy of making it easier to do business in Zimbabwe by cutting back on legal delays.

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