Namibian courts still faced with outstanding cases

18 Mar 2015 16:20pm

EENHANA, 18 MAR (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Justice has a responsibility to make sure that backlog in outstanding criminal cases in Namibian courts is reduced or totally wiped out.
Justice Minister Utoni Nujoma said this when he officially inaugurated the newly-constructed section of the Eenhana Magistrate’s Court building in the Ohangwena Region here on Wednesday.
Nujoma said the Eenhana magistrate’s court has a backlog of 540 outstanding criminal matters, while the Ohangwena periodical court, which is visited on a daily basis by magistrates from Eenhana, has a backlog of 823 outstanding cases at this stage.
Okongo periodical court of the Ohangwena Region, which is visited once a week per month, has 174 criminal cases that are outstanding.
Nujoma singled out shortage of human personnel as one of the causes of backlog of outstanding criminal cases in Namibian courts.
“Apart from increasing staff, we also need to improve efficiency in the management of our court rolls and minimize delays in the criminal process once cases are set down for trial,” Nujoma urged.
He at the same time welcomed the recent workshop organised by the Magistrates Commission where strategies were considered on how best to address the backlog in the criminal cases in the country.
“The outcome of these consultations will hopefully address this problem which affects most of our lower courts,” the Namibian justice minister said.
Deputy Chairperson of the Magistrates Commission, Gabes Nepaya also addressed those who attended the Eenhana courts’ inauguration, and announced that magistrates are performing well in Namibia.
“I am sure the High Court judges who are entrusted with the power to review the judgments of magistrates can truly attest to this position,” Nepaya remarked.
He has at the same time pointed out that Namibia is still faced with the challenge of some magistrates being too young to handle the situation.
According to him, magistrates who are less than 30 years of age are finding it hard to sail through because of their youthfulness.
“Some are failing to balance their official status and their private lives, even though they are small in numbers they have the potential of damaging the good image and reputation of the magistracy,” Nepaya narrated.
The upgrading of the Eenhana court started in 2012, but Nujoma noted that it could only be completed in August last year due to delays beyond his Ministry’s control.
The total project expenditure of the Eenhana court amounts to N.dollars 9.7 million. Nujoma has also inaugurated a N.dollars 19.3 million-worth extension buildings of the magistrates court at Outapi in the Omusati Region on Monday.