Query: Is our Prosecutor-General really competent? She refused to prosecute so many cases apparently due to inadequate evidence. Why not send the dockets to the police for more investigations? I am starting to doubt her now.
Response: The prosecutor-general’s office always welcomes constructive criticism. The above sentiment raised by the writer of the SMS is considered constructive as it indicates that the sender of the SMS or more Namibian citizens may not know how the criminal justice system works. The process of arresting someone differs from prosecuting someone. A person may be arrested if an arrestor is suspicious that the arrestee has committed a crime or about to commit a crime, whereas a decision to prosecute someone is made when all investigations in the matter are completed. And such information is contained in what is called a docket.
The prosecutor-general or a prosecutor who should analyze such information should have in mind what type of crime he/she is dealing with and what are the elements of such a crime and then look at whether the evidence in the docket if it is taken to court can prove that the person implicated in such an offence is the one who committed it and that at the end of the matter, he/she may be found guilty of it. In other words, a decision to prosecute is only taken if the evidence in the docket shows what is called in law “a prima facie case”.
It should not be expected that the prosecutor-general’s office should institute criminal prosecutions in all dockets referred to its office and it does not mean by investigating someone then that someone has committed the alleged offence.
Citizens are also entitled to approach the control prosecutors in their areas or the prosecutor-general’s head office for clarification on decisions taken by the prosecution in the country if they are not satisfied with the decisions taken.
The prosecution service in Namibia in general represents the interests of the public and therefore the public should feel free to contact its offices countrywide if they are not satisfied with the decision.
Further, if the prosecutor-general’s office declines to prosecute a matter, then the complainant can request a certificate called a Nolle Prosequi certificate which enables such complainant to institute a private prosecution in a court of law.
Please note that the prosecution service of Namibia is there to serve the nation effectively and if anyone doubts its decision, then you are welcome to visit our offices at all magistrates’ offices in Namibia next to your area of residence. We are therefore committed to serve the people of the Land of the Brave without fear, favour or prejudice.
• Master Penna, Chief Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Justice, email@example.com