By RABECCA CHIPANTA
and BRIAN HATYOKA –
NDOLA High Court deputy Judge-in-Charge Yvonne Chembe says there has been a reduction in the number of defilement cases referred for sentencing from the lower courts.
Judge Chembe, however, noted an increase in causing death by dangerous driving cases as shown by statistics and called on the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to do more with one being the expedition of setting up of a fast track court to deal with traffic offences.
Speaking during the ceremonial opening of the High Court Session, Judge Chembe said 93 cases were recorded with the highest being 36 cases of causing death by dangerous driving followed by 32 murder cases and the rest consisted of theft, house breaking and aggravated robbery.
“Ninety per cent of the cases were disposed of despite the disruption of the criminal sessions in the fourth quarter occasioned by the hearing of election petitions. We as the Judiciary are happy to note a slight reduction in the number of defilement cases as they were fewer that were referred to the High Court,” she said.
She said the success of criminal sessions depended on stakeholders such as the Police, National Prosecution Authority (NPA) among others, adding that she was aware that the said institutions faced a number of challenges that impacted on smooth delivery of justice.
Judge Chembe said the lack of transport from the Police affected cases resulting in matters being adjourned or the State entering nolle prosequi due to none availability of witnesses.
She, however, commended the Government for enhancing operations of the NPA and the Legal Aid Board as the number of advocates had continued to increase, a situation she hoped would continue.
And Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo said despite the economic challenges the country had been faced with last year it was able to release funds to enable criminal sessions be held.
He said Government was committed to making the Judiciary fully autonomous in its operations.
He commended the Ndola High Court of disposing of 90 per cent of the cases despite the challenges it was faced with.
Meanwhile, the number of inmates in Correctional facilities in Southern Province had gone up by 25 to 2,114 in January this year compared to the same period last year.
In his submission to the Livingstone High Court during the ceremonial opening of the High Court Sessions for 2017 in Southern Province, Livingstone Correctional Service officer in charge Ivor Musumali said the number of inmates in all correctional facilities in the province was 2,114 as of January 9, 2017 compared to 2,089 inmates in January last year.
Mr Musumali said Livingstone Correctional facility had the highest number of inmates at 820 followed by Choma Correctional facility at 442.
He said Monze Correctional Centre had 75 inmates, while the Mazabuka Correctional facility had 335 inmates with the Namwala Correctional Centre having 170 inmates.
Kalomo Correctional Centre has 140 inmates, while Katombora Reformatory School had 132 inmates.
Recently, Zambia Correctional Service Commissioner General Percy Chato said the average population of inmates in Zambia’s correctional facilities was more than 20,000 against the holding capacity of 8,350 representing more than 240 per cent of crowding.