Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has scaled up efforts to save child offenders from jail by decentralising the pre-trial diversion (PTD) programme to all the country’s 10 provinces. Extra-judicial programmes are meant to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and to save them from turning into hardcore criminals. It applies to children under the age of 18.
PTD is a department in the Justice ministry which offers extra-judicial programmes for children found to be in conflict with the law.
This applies to children who commit non-serious offences.
In terms of the PTD, child offenders under 18 years are not taken through due process of the law.
Instead, the department offers programmes such as victim-offender mediation, counselling and restitution.
Speaking during the ministry’s 2019-2020 strategic plan review meeting recently, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the last batch of five PTD provincial offices opened doors to the public last year.
Minister Ziyambi said the programme had now cascaded to district level.
“I am pleased to inform you that the PTD programme has been on expansion drive during the course of 2018.
“In addition to five pilot district provinces, we managed to open five new provincial offices in Marondera, Bindura, Chinhoyi, Masvingo and Mutare,” said Minister Ziyambi.
“An additional seven districts were also capacitated during the course of the year and are expected to be operational anytime from now.
“With these new offices, we will now have PTD being implemented in all provinces for the benefit of children in conflict with the law,” said Minister Ziyambi.
PTD acting national coordinator Ms Sandra Sanyanga said staff had already been trained ahead of the operationalisation of the programme in all provinces and the first seven districts.
“All the personnel has since been trained, including prosecutors, magistrates and other staff.
“We are ready to roll out the programme with an intention to rehabilitate young offenders,” said Ms Sanyanga.
“When children commit non-serious offences, we find it too harsh to take them through due process. Rather they should be taken through extra-judicial programmes.
“The main objective is to give them a second chance because a number of them commit the offences while experimenting,” she said.