Murder cases backlog worries High Court

MASVINGO - The High Court has expressed concern over the backlog in murder cases here, saying it is failing to complete murder trials during the three court circuits every year.

Officially opening the 2014 legal year at Masvingo Magistrate Court yesterday, Justice Susan Mavangira bemoaned the increase in murder cases in the province and blamed them for making their lives difficult.

Masvingo has a backlog of 93 murder cases.

The year’s three court circuits usually put 33 cases for trial.

The High Court last year only managed to complete 22 cases.

Justice Mavangira said because of the bloated number of cases, it was making it completely impossible for the High Court to finish the trial of all the awaiting cases in a year.

“While matters that are set down are not all completed, more dockets are also being opened and adding on to the number of cases awaiting trial.

“As at 21 November 2013, 93 murder dockets were being held at Masvingo National Prosecuting Authorities’ offices,” Justice Mavangira said.

She said that because of the ever surging number of murder cases, there was need to increase the number of matters per circuit but it would be impossible to complete them.

She  decried the challenges of bringing witnesses from the rural areas who would need to stay in Masvingo city for the whole circuit which last two weeks.

Some witnesses will be busy in their fields during this time of the year, she said, and might sometimes fail to come and  testify before the courts, hence the courts end up failing to complete some matters.

She also lamented the long hours the High Court ends up sitting in a bid to complete the cases.

While they also work during the weekends, they are still failing to complete the cases.

Normally, the High Court put 10 to 12 cases per circuit but with the number of cases piling at the NPA, there was need to increase them.

“For the 93 matters to be completed during the three circuit courts for 2014, it would require that 31 matters be completed during each circuit lasts two weeks that relates to 10 working days,” she said.

“By any stretch of human imagination, completion of 31 murder trials within a 10 to 12 day period is an impossible task.”

She said that a circuit can only complete 7 to 8 cases, saying these would translate to the escalation of the backlog on murder cases.

The High Court concern comes hard on the heels of yet another concern over the similar cases by the Zimbabwe Republic Police last week.

Godwin Matanga, deputy commissioner general responsible for administration, told guests during a belated end of year party for police officers at Masvingo Polytechnic College last week that it was disheartening that murder and armed robbery cases rose by 34 and 36 percent respectively last year.

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.