Community court justice assessors want allowance increased

21 May 2017 18:50pm
ONDANGWA, 21 MAY (NAMPA) – Justice assessors and clerks in community courts want their monthly allowance increased as they say it is not enough for the work they do.
Eight community court representatives from the Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshana regions are attending a Ministry of Justice workshop which started on Saturday in Ondangwa.
The local community-focused courts attempt to harness the power of the justice system to address local problems adjudicated by an assessor, who is equivalent to a judge at a modern court.
The workshop is aimed at assessing the effectiveness of community courts and if need be, to also introduce amendments to address challenges experienced during the running of court sessions.
According to the representatives, assessors get N.dollars 20 per hour; clerks N.dollars 1 800 per month; and a messenger of the court N.dollars 1 200 per month and N.dollars 2 per travelling kilometre.
They say this is barely enough to take care of household needs, especially for those who rely solely on working at the court. Working hours on average are nine hours a day.
The Omabalantu and Ombadja representatives also asked that messengers be accompanied by the police when delivering a summons to an offender.
“Our messengers are not safe with some offenders because once a person has been subpoenaed, some of them get agitated and try to harm the messenger,” said Petrus Haipanda of the Omabalantu community court.
Seblon Hidengwa of the Ombadja community court also noted that police intervention is needed if an offender refuses to be present in court.
The representatives also said most of them struggle to understanding the Community Court Act and suggested that it be translated into their vernaculars for them to better understand and apply it.
Minister of Justice Albert Kawana during the workshop said community courts are vital in communities as they provide the majority of people who are unable to afford lawyers with access to justice.
“One does not need money to register a case because you do not need to hire a lawyer, therefore, given the high cost of legal services in our country, the majority of our citizens will be able to access these courts,” the minister added.
Kawana also accepted the suggestions, noting that necessary changes are needed in order to change people’s lives for the better.
He assured traditional authorities that the ministry will continue working with them to help improve the support given to the community courts.
The three-day workshop ends Monday.