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Judiciary considers major overhaul for the magistracy

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ENHANCING: Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane

In their endeavour to improve efficiency and effectiveness, the judiciary will under go a restructuring process as long mooted by the Aguda Commission of 1996.

Addressing the leadership of the Magistracy at a retreat in Palapye, Chief Justice Terence Rannowane said the process in pivotal to ensure that the judiciary meets the emerging demands and trends of the 21st Century.

“We intend to compliment and refine the restructuring architectural model as framed in the Aguda Commission Report,” said Rannowane.

The Chief Justice announced that they are considering enhancing the Magistracy’s jurisdiction through the creation of two more Regional Magistrates positions and one Chief Magistrate position to enhance efficiency and service delivery.

He further said other issues having a bearing on public confidence in their system relate to the existence of a huge backlog of cases, delays in the delivery of judgements and transcription of proceedings.

“These also include the release of offenders, especially repeat offenders on bail and general lethargy and glitches in service delivery,” he said.

The Chief Justice said they should be inward looking as they reflect and introspect on their challenges and recognize their role in it before passing it to other stakeholders.

“We also remain resolute that our reforms in the form of Court Annexed Mediation, E-Filing and Real Time court Reporting and the special courts will expedite the disposal of cases and improve turnaround times thereby creating a conducive environment for economic growth and employment creation,” Rannowane said.

Shedding more light into the anticipated restructuring Registrar and Master of the High Court, Michael Motlhabi, said for the high Court they need Headquarters separate and divorced in terms of personnel and budget from the High Court Division in Gaborone.

He said the current arrangement of duplicity and sharing of personnel affects service delivery in all its permutations.

“We need to have an administrative and judicial structure in sync with legislation and not in accordance with practice. I’m referring to the appointments of Registrar and Master so that it is in accordance with Statutes,” said Motlhabi.

He said to further enhance access to justice and expedite service delivery they are proposing establishment of two Regional Magistrates covering Ngamiland, Okavango and Kgalagadi regions, i.e. Regional Magistrates being resident in Maun and Jwaneng.

He further said they are also proposing enhanced jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases, whose threshold currently stands at P40 000 effected in 2004.

“The passage of time and inflation call for such a review so that litigants continue to access the Magistrates Courts which are spread throughout the country. An increase to P200 000 may be the starting point,” he said.