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Police call for revival of fast track trial courts

by Staff reporter
31 Mar 2023 at 07:44hrs | Views
THE Commissioner-General of police Godwin Matanga has called for the revival of fast track trial courts to speed up the finalisation of criminal cases and restore confidence in the justice system.

Speaking at the inaugural Magistrate's National Conference in Victoria Falls yesterday, Commissioner General Matanga said the police are of the view that the courts were granting bail to undeserving criminals who then default trial thereby affecting justice delivery.

The conference was organised by the Judicial Service Commission through  the Judicial Training School to deliberate on issues affecting the legal and justice system.

"The issue of delays in the finalisation of criminal cases has continued to be a cause for concern for quite some time.

"Several players contribute to the problem and it is regrettable to note that the numerous postponements of matters result in witness fatigue or loss of interest in the case, financial burden to the witnesses and unwillingness to assist the police with information," said Commissioner-General Matanga.

He said in some cases, the delays result in lawlessness or increased crime rate as members of the public resort to taking the law into their own hands.

"In view of the plethora of the contributory factors, we advocate for among other strategies, the revival of the efficient management of fast track courts as this will facilitate clearance of the daunting backlog," said Comm-General.

He said another issue which has continued to unsettle the police has been the granting of bail to persons who in its view are not suitable candidates.

He said from January 2022 to February 2023, a total of 79 armed robbers were granted bail and 26 defaulted court.

"It is no secret that each day our police officers stand in harm's way apprehending armed robbers among other perpetrators of serious crimes.

We are all aware that most of these are dangerous criminals hence it is not easy to apprehend and re-arrest them. My appeal Honourable Chief Justice is for these hard core criminals not to be granted bail," he said.

Comm-General Matanga called upon courts to pass deterrent sentences.
He said the plight and welfare of witnesses should be closely looked into as they are the backbone of success or failure of any case.

Comm-General Matanga said the handling of criminal exhibits has been a source of litigation against police as ideally the exhibits should be handed over to the Clerk of Court but are left in the hands of the police who are then sued by owners when the exhibits go missing.

He also said police are concerned about the power of warrants of search and seizure as most of them are being set aside by the High Court on appeal on the basis that they are irregular.

Comm-General  Matanga said there is a need for all stakeholders in the  justice system to join hands in coming up with solutions to the challenges facing the justice delivery system including corruption.

JSC secretary Mr Walter Chikwana said the issue of revival of fast track courts needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency.

"We used to have fast track courts some time ago and these are some of the issues that we need to resolve," he said.

Source - The Chronicle