Divorce spike worries judges

BULWAYO - Divorce cases are increasing at an alarming rate, putting a strain on the High Court, Judge President George Chiweshe has said.

Speaking during the official opening of the 2013 judicial year at the Bulawayo High Court yesterday, Chiweshe said 519 divorce summons were issued in 2012, an increase of 113 cases from 2011.

“The rate at which couples are divorcing has reached alarming levels,” Chiweshe said.

“Social scientists and other experts have attributed this development to the general erosion of cultural values due to urban migration, domestic violence, adultery and other social ills,” he said.

Chiweshe said prevailing harsh economic conditions had worsened the situation.

Recently, the High Court has dealt with high profile divorce cases involving Zanu PF national chairperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo, Environment and Natural Resources Management minister Francis Nhema and defence forces commander Constantine Chiwenga.

Chiweshe also expressed dissatisfaction with the disposal rate of criminal trials in the country’s High Court.

He said 74 criminal trials were set down in 2012 as compared to 72 in 2011 but of these only 19 were completed while 55 are pending.

“Most of the cases do not take off because invariably key witnesses cannot be located,” he said.

He urged the Registrar of the High Court, the Attorney General’s office, the police and prison authorities to “double their efforts to ensure that criminal investigations are timeously concluded and accused persons duly brought to trial”.

Chiweshe warned against what he described as a rampant abuse of the appeal process at the High Court.

Out of a total of 654 notices of criminal appeals received last year only 89 records were set down and completed.

“I note with concern that the majority of criminal appeals are noted for purposes of securing bail by accused persons. Once out on bail, the accused persons largely do not bother to prosecute their appeals.
“The courts won’t sit back in the face of such rampant abuse of its process,” he said.

He said the civil appeal process was also under threat.

“A total of 121 notices of appeal were filed. Of these only 36 records were processed to completion. The rest remain unactioned, which means they were obviously filed for purposes of delay,” Chiweshe said.

He ordered an immediate stop to this rot as “measures will be put in place for that purpose”.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.