Construction of the new multi-million dollar regional and magistrate’s court at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region is progressing well, with completion expected by November.
Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sompafu confirmed this recently and said it is expected that Phase 1 of the multi-million dollar project will be completed in November. He said the total project cost is estimated to be N$45 million.
The Ministry of Justice has a responsibility to make sure that the backlog in unresolved criminal cases before Namibia’s courts are reduced or totally cleared.
Zambezi is among the regions whose magistrates and supporting staff work in difficult circumstances, hence the Ministry of Justice took the initiative to address this challenge by constructing the new court facilities.
New Era understands that currently the Zambezi Region has only two courtrooms, which is not sufficient to deal with the number of criminal cases. When the regional court sits, there is only one magistrate’s court in operation, and this is one of the reasons why there is such a huge backlog of unresolved court cases.
According to judicial sources, many residents in that region rely heavily on traditional courts, claiming they are doing better in clearing the backlog of cases on its roll than magistrates’ courts and the High Court.
New Era could not immediately determine the scale of the backlog of court case Zambezi faces at this stage, but sources indicated that the unresolved cases number several hundred.
Currently the construction of new courthouses and the renovation of existing ones are underway in various parts of the country, including Katima Mulilo and Okahandja. Construction of court buildings will also be undertaken at Omuthiya in the Oshikoto Region and Nkurenkuru in the Kavango West Region.
Last year, the Ministry of Justice inaugurated the Eenhana Magistrate’s Court, which had a backlog of 540 outstanding criminal cases. Ohangwena Periodical Court, which is visited on a daily basis by magistrates from Eenhana, has a backlog at this stage of over 800 unresolved cases.
Late last year Justice Minister Dr Albert Kawana, who visited the site, had expressed his satisfaction regarding the progress in the project started in April 2015.
At the time, Kawana and his delegation toured the construction site in Katima Mulilo’s Soweto area, where they vowed that the ministry would continue to improve access to legal and justice services, ensuring that offenders are held to account and trust in the justice system is promoted.
Governor Sampofu said he is grateful that Phase 1 of the massive construction project will be completed by end of the year.