Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
For Ms Eucalia Moslyn Ncube, who toiled with many other villagers to construct the Lupane Magistrates Court, its completion and commissioning was a huge relief and a dream come true.
The Lupane Magistrates Court, whose construction was spearheaded by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) , was commissioned yesterday by Chief Justice Luke Malaba.
The new court complex is located near the Grain Marketing Board depot north of Lupane town centre.
Chief Justice Malaba was taken around the facility by Chief Magistrate Mrs Faith Mushure in the company of his deputy, Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Permanent Secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza and secretary of the JSC, Mr Walter Chikwana and senior judges and magistrates.
The premises has an airconditioned main building with two courtrooms, resident and junior magistrate chambers with their own ablution facilities and an e-filing office.
In the complex, there is a building with three prison holding cells, one for minors, the other for men and women, all complete with ablution and shower facilities. The holding cells also house offices for prison officers. Outside there is a waiting shed for witnesses.
The completion of the court complies with the constitutional principle of devolution of essential services and infrastructural development. It is also in line with implementing the Government and JSC policy to take the justice delivery system to the people in line with National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Ms Ncube from St Paul’s in Lupane said the community was united in seeing and ensuring the court was completed.
“Many community members came together and helped clear land, and make bricks to construct the court. It’s a sign of unity of purpose and this is in line with the Government’s philosophy that Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabaninilo.
“We all volunteered our labour to make bricks and do other jobs. No one was forced but it was all coming from our hearts.”
Ms Ncube thanked Provincial Magistrate Mr Ndumo Masuku, who was on the ground with them coordinating the building of the Magistrates Court.
Mr Alphios Macebo, who lives in Lupane’s Down-Stores said the court’s construction has brought justice to people.
“This court has come close to us, the people. Unlike that one where they were sharing offices with the DDC. It was not a conducive place for the court to be at. This will also cut the distances people travel to access justice at the courts,” said Mr Macebo.
The Magistrates’ Court was all along housed at the District Development Co-ordinator’s offices. Lupane district Ward 10 Councillor Fortunate Ndlovu said the completion of the courts was in line with Government policy and development agenda.
“What the Chief Justice said showed that the NDS1 was being implemented. As he said that there should be such courts in all places around the country to reduce the distances that people travel,” said Councillor Ndlovu. Mrs Stella Sigauke from Jotsholo said they can now access court facilities.
“I have a deceased estate that has not been concluded because Bulawayo or Hwange are far from where I am. Sometimes I would be told to go to Harare and this has become expensive. So this court is very close to the people and we can at least have our cases heard without having to travel far,” said Mrs Sigauke.
Her husband, Mr Donald Sigauke said what was left was for more police stations or bases to be established in the province.
“As business people we have also contributed to build police base stations within communities in areas such as Dongamuzi and Siabuwa. This is our little way to help the justice system and arrest crime in those areas. There is a need for more police stations or bases in Matabeleland North because it’s a huge province,” said Mr Sigauke.
In his keynote address, Chief Justice Malaba said Matabeleland North province is big so it needs more Magistrate Courts so that people do not travel long distances to access courts.
“One needs only to note that from Hwange to Binga one travels 209 kilometres; from Hwange to Lupane is a distance of 165 kilometres and Hwange and Victoria Falls are 102 kilometres apart. The Judicial Service Commission is disturbed by such long distances between the courthouses because they signify the distances that litigants may have to travel to access the courts,” said Chief Justice Malaba.
He said they are now considering constructing resident Magistrates’ courts in Dete and Kamativi so that people have courts close to them.
“This is a situation that calls for the intervention of the Judicial Service Commission, which should consider having a resident magistrate’s court at Dete, where a circuit court is operating. There is also a need to have a court opened at Kamativi. I expect Matabeleland North to have at least six courthouses,” said Chief Justice Malaba.
The JSC is also implementing the Integrated Case Management Systems (IECMS) to facilitate virtual courts that are meant to complement physical courts.
“Although the JSC will continue to build more courts in Matabeleland North, the implementation of the IECMS under phase two of the programme will go a long way towards mitigating the effects of barriers to access to justice faced by people in the province and elsewhere in the country due to long distances they have to travel to be physically present at the court,” said Chief Justice Malaba.
He said there are plans to complete world-class Magistrates Courts in Gwanda soon.
Representing the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi, Mrs Mabhiza hailed the JSC for constructing the courts saying it dovetails with the Second Republic’s thrust to uplift all communities.
“Every person, regardless of gender, colour, race, creed, class, or other status is entitled to the equal protection of the law and to seek and obtain judicial remedies from the courts, it is therefore important that the courts are closer to the people. This is the direction that the second republic is going within its decentralisation and devolution agenda.
“We are looking forward to the contented decentralisation of the courts and establishment of the High court in all the provinces,” said Mrs Mabiza.
In a speech read on his behalf by District Development Coordinator for Lupane, Mrs Ennety Sitholem, Matabeleland North Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo said the court was in line with vision 2030.
“I applaud the Judicial Services Commission for playing its role today. This is what the President His Excellency Dr E D Mnangagwa identified as strategies towards Vision 2030. As duty bearers, we all have an obligation to lead Zimbabwe to all its aspirations and vision. This is the essence of the leadership roles that we occupy,” said Minister Moyo
Following the completion of the new complex, the magistrate-in-charge of the province will relocate from Hwange to Lupane once accommodation is built.
Completion of the new court complex follows that of the Welshman Mabhena Government Complex where Government departments have since been allocated offices to pave the way for the relocation of civil servants from Bulawayo where they have been operating from.
The Government is also constructing the Lupane Provincial Hospital while Lupane State University has since moved some of its faculties to the provincial capital as the Second Republic implements the policy of Decentralisation and Devolution. — @bonganinkunzi
Article Source: The Chronicle