During the past five years, only 91 729 of the 426 815 cases received by the office of the prosecutor general were finalised, Attorney General Sakeus Shanghala revealed in the National Assembly last week.
This means the backlog of cases as of end of last year stood at 335 086. The figures, which exclude those of all dockets for decisions, maintenance and prosecution in regional and high courts, were provided by Shanghala while motivating the N$135 million budget allocation for his office for the 2015/16 financial year.
During 2010/11, for example, the prosecutor general’s office, which is headed by Martha Imalwa, received 200 747 cases but only 37 210 were finalised while last year only 16 996 of 56 142 cases were finalised.
Shanghala blamed the situation on the inadequate number of prosecutors, slow police investigations and availability of witnesses.
He told New Era yesterday that he is greatly concerned about the number of pending cases and vowed to institute measures to decentralise powers so that officials can take decisions quicker regarding prosecution.
He said conditions of service such as salaries and working environment of the country’s justice system must be addressed in order to lure more prosecutors. There are only 130 state prosecutors at the moment, a situation that has led to many prosecutors being overloaded with cases.
“I will have a strategic meeting with the staff of the office so that we can put our heads around the matter so that we can analyse where we are, where we want to be and how we will get there. The situation is concerning because justice delayed is justice denied, but we must also understand the factors which caused the situation so that we can make the right interventions,” he said.
“We must specialise our people and enable them to take decisions quicker, the PG Bill will allow some of that decentralisation because I will introduce new guidelines for prosecution,” he said.
The snail’s pace at which the office of the prosecutor general deals with cases over the years is said to have had an adverse effect on the country’s justice system.