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‘Underperformance in lower court caused by space shortage’

Chief Justice Peter Shivute said the underperformance in the lower courts are as a result of a shortage of courtrooms and magistrates.

He said this during the official opening of the legal year, that took place at the Supreme Court today.

The chief justice also listed incomplete police investigations and double bookings of lawyers, also results in a delay in prosecutorial decisions.

Chief justice gave some figures regarding the number of cases the different courts presided over.

From January 2019 to January 2020, district court magistrates presided over 46 460 criminal cases. 24 256 of those cases, represented 52% of the finalised cases during that period. 22 204 cases were carried over to 2020.

That finalisation rate, the chief justice said, falls 10% short of the 62% finalisation rate set, which was set for the district courts.

It, however, represents an improvement on the previous year which recorded a 21% finalisation rate.

The Judiciary is currently in need of 16 magistrates and 12 high court judges, but getting this human capital, Chief Justice Shivute said, is hampered by a shortage of funds is blocking these vacancies from being filled.

He also mentioned that the judiciary is short of N$4 million Namibian dollars in witness fees. What that means is that not only are new trials under threat of not commencing, but part-heard matters may not be completed.

The Judiciaries budget for operation was last year reduced by 8 million from N$368 million to N$360 million.

Wonder Guchu

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