'Over 2 000 convicts roaming streets'

HARARE - Over 2 000 convicts are roaming the streets as their appeals are still to be heard owing to shortages of personnel and recording equipment, Judicial Service Commission (JSC) deputy secretary Rex Shana has said.

The criminals are enjoying freedom after being granted bail pending appeal.

Speaking to reporters at the High Court yesterday, Shana said there were a lot of procedures that were to be taken for an appeal to be heard and the process was expensive, especially for ordinary people.

He said each copy from the record costs a dollar to be transcribed and an applicant has to make seven duplicates of each copy.

“The transcription takes a lot of time because they (transcribing personnel) are dealing with thousands of records.

“We have got a limited establishment which we cannot expand because of a freeze on the posts,” said Shana.
He said because of the tiny pool of transcribing personnel, delays in the hearing of appeals were inevitable.

Shana said the shortage of personnel, coupled with resource constraints were the factors that created a major setback on appeals.

He further said the courts in the country were using old recording machines, which gave transcribing personnel a torrid time when typing since some tapes are inaudible at times.

“There is no single company in Zimbabwe that deals with the machines. We have to import them,” he said.

Shana told reporters that they had received seven digital recording machines from United Nations Development Programme in 2008, but these had not helped to alleviate the backlog.

Currently there is approximately 2 000 pending appeals that are to be heard, filed from the Magistrates’ Courts to the High Court.

The Supreme Court also has 122 appeals to deal with emanating from the High Court, Shana said. - Tendai Kamhungira

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