By PERPETUAL SICHIKWENKWE, KASONDE KASONDE and BRIAN HATYOKA –
A LUSAKA High Court judge has called for national dialogue to tackle the increasing cases of sexual offences.
Mr Justice Chalwe Mchenga said the 15-year maximum sentence introduced by the Penal Code Amendment Act number 15 of 2005 had not helped to reduce sexual offence.
He said the current maximum jail sentence appeared not to have any deterrent effect as evidenced by the increasing number of people being arrested, prosecuted and convicted for sexual offences.
“Since it is now apparent that the lengthy sentences that Act number 15 of 2005 introduced have not had the desired effect, isn’t it time for us to have a relook on how we deal with sexual offences and sexual offenders in Zambia?” he said.
He said during the ceremonial opening for the Lusaka High Court criminal sessions yesterday that the current methods of dealing with sexual offences was not yielding the desired results as more offenders were being brought to face justice.
Mr Justice Mchenga said there was need for dialogue with politicians, traditional rulers, church leaders, lawyers, medical practitioners, women and child rights activists to look into the matter and find lasting solutions to the challenge.
On concerns of delays in conclusion of cases, Mr Justice Mchenga said the Judiciary had embarked on various reforms and introduced a number of measures aimed at accelerating the disposal of criminal cases.
He said the Judiciary had adopted a system which allowed the criminal sessions’ cause-list to include trials, criminal appeals and cases committed to the high court by the subordinate courts for sentencing or confirmation of sentences.
Meanwhile, Central Province Minister Obvious Mwaliteta has said that the judicial reforms being worked on in the country will inspire confidence in the courts as custodians of justice.
Mr Mwaliteta said that justice should be seen through impartial decisions and fair sentencing, particularly in subordinate courts where the bulk of the criminal cases were heard.
He said during the ceremonial opening of the High Court criminal sessions for Central Province that the slow pace of disposing of cases had posed a major challenge to all.
In Livingstone, Southern Province Minister Daniel Munkombwe directed the Provincial Permanent Secretary Bert Mushala to investigate the delays in the construction of six local courts in the province.
Livingstone High Court Judge-in-charge Gaudentia Milimo-Salasini said the greatest challenge in Southern Province had been lack of transport to take prisoners to court.