'Cases overwhelm circuit court judges'

GWERU - A High Court judge has said courts are overwhelmed with the burgeoning number of cases taxing the existing manpower.

Justice Lawrence Kamocha said this was delaying the completion of cases in circuit courts.

Five judges based in Bulawayo are responsible for Midlands, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo circuit courts.

The circuit courts have failed to complete outstanding cases in the previous legal year.

Justice Kamocha revealed at the official opening of the Gweru legal calendar yesterday that five judges handle criminal and civil cases from the whole of the Midlands, Matabeleland North and South as well as  Bulawayo provinces.

“The judges also deal with all criminal and civil appeals from all magistrates’ courts in the above-mentioned provinces,” Kamocha said.

“What this means is that there is a very heavy workload for the five judges.”

The Judicial Services Commission must appoint more judges to service circuit courts to relieve the judges.

The growing number of cases has been attributed to a rise in crime and increasing knowledge on rights among citizens.

Kamocha also expressed concern over the two-week allocation to preside over High Court cases in the various provinces, saying it was too short.

Last year in the Gweru circuit court, 47 criminal trials were received, of which 19 were completed, while 28 are still pending. Criminal cases also continued to soar, with a total of 2 404 criminal reviews conducted.

Divorce cases continue to soar due to the decay in the social fabric, with 475 cases having been received in 2014.

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