WINDHOEK – The Windhoek Municipal Court situated at the corner of Sam Nujoma Drive and Bismarck Street officially opened its doors yesterday morning. The court will deal with all municipal transgressions including traffic tickets and municipal bylaw offences.
It will be staffed by two magistrates, two prosecutors and office staff seconded from the Namibian Judiciary. The Judiciary will be responsible for expenses related to the staff, the office equipment, while the Windhoek Municipality will shoulder the burden for the rates and taxes, the cleaning of the premises and the insurance.
The court is a designated effort between the City of Windhoek, the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Judiciary and the Ministry of Works and Transport to alleviate the burgeoning pile of traffic tickets that cumulated over the years. The premises houses two court rooms, a cash hall, an enquiry desk as well as offices for the magistrates, prosecutors and support staff.
According to a communique issued by the Judiciary, the new court will bring about a huge relief in respect of case load in the Magisterial District of Windhoek
The Magistrate’s Court situated at Lüderitz Street will no longer deal with the payment of traffic fines, traffic offences cases and or other matters relating to municipal bylaw transgressions.
The Office of the Judiciary expressed its gratitude to all role players that made this possible. At the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, the Office of the Judiciary said it is the joint responsibility of the various stakeholders in the criminal justice system and the local authority sector to bring justice to the people and ensure that the delivery of justice is not delayed.
The City of Windhoek has made the premises available to the Office of the Judiciary for a period of 10 years rent-free, while the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Works renovated the premises.
The establishment of the municipal court has been the idea of the City of Windhoek for many years as it has increasingly experienced a backlog of traffic cases due to the sheer volume of traffic offences, which are currently dealt with by only one court.
Deputy Chief of the Traffic Management Unit of the City Police, Adam Eiseb, during a previous interaction on the proposed court told New Era the proposition to create a municipal court has nothing to do with increasing revenue, in spite of murmurings that the idea was to increase Windhoek’s revenue stream.
He said he was not happy with the fact that traffic offences are viewed as less important in the magistrate’s courts compared to other offences.
However, a source at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court said this will not be the case as legislation only makes provision that the money paid for fines be allocated to State coffers.
Until the laws are amended to say that the municipalities and town councils should be the recipients of money generated through traffic fines, the State remains the only beneficiary of millions of dollars in fines paid for municipal transgressions.
Municipal courts are in operation all over the world with Canada and the United States of America having the most municipal courts, with one in almost every city.