Inadequate Resources Hinder Justice

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By Charity Musa WINDHOEK Magistrates based in rural areas are saying that the lack of legal support services and inadequate funding are contributing factors to the delay in reviewing and submitting case records to the high courts. Katima Mulilo magistrate, Rachel Sakala, said some magistrates’ courts lacked qualified typists as well as the paper to print case records, hence the delay in submitting reviews to higher courts. Sakala said this yesterday at the ongoing week-long magistrates’ training conference being held at the Safari Hotel. According to her, most qualified typists left the rural areas in search of better jobs in towns where conditions of service are better. “Competent typists are coming to Windhoek for greener pastures and, because of this, cases are being delayed in courts,” Sakala said, adding that some typists were slow and others were overworked because of a lack of staff at magistrates’ courts. Commenting on the same matter, Annel Silungwe of the Windhoek High Court said the high courts were also faced with the same problem, making it difficult for judges to mete out justice timeously. Silungwe said there was need to put pressure on the authorities to provide better legal support services so that work could be done efficiently. “An adequate number of typists is needed in the judiciary to help the courts dispose of cases and to prevent delays in trials,” he said. Silungwe urged other African countries to introduce community services for prisoners convicted of minor crimes. He said instead of sending people with such offences to prison, it would be better for these inmates to do community work to reduce congestion in the prisons. Silungwe said most prisons in Africa were congested because of financial constraints. “Financial constraints have contributed to congestion in prisons and many prisoners are made to occupy one cell meant for only a few people,” he said. Silungwe further said it was a pity that some prisoners who committed minor crimes were being placed in the same cells as dangerous, hard-core criminals.