Wrangles within the Ondonga Traditional Authority has forced Justice minister, Sacky Shangala to direct the Ondonga community court to suspend all activities until further notice directly in writing and in the public by placing adverts in the newspapers.
This follows his meeting with the assessors of the Ondonga Community Court at Ondangwa on 24 May which he said was for the purpose of resolving administrative concerns which may hamper service delivery and access to justice.
Said the minister, “It is common cause that the impasse within the Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA) has adversely impacted the operations of the Ondonga Traditional Authority Community Court (OTACC).”
He has also directed for a thorough investigation to be conducted by the Division: Community Courts, Directorate: Legal Services of the Ministry of Justice, assisted by the Clerk of Court, which should detail all government assets; all outstanding and incomplete file matters; and all available (to adjudicate matters) Justices/Assessors whose names are published in the Government Gazette; and
He also also issued an ultimatum indicating that if he does not receive written confirmation that the justices/assessors reflected in the relevant government gazette and authorized to conduct the OTACC, he will be granted access to the facilities from which the OTACC used to operate from at the OTA Offices at Ondangwa, then he shall determine where (venue) and when (date of commencement) the OTACC shall resume operations.
“However, if it is the case that the OTA is no longer interested in a community court, then the Honourable Minister is prepared to publish a notice in the Government Gazette to revoke its existence,” he indicated.
Shanghala also paid visit to the Kambazembi Community Court at Okarara on 30 May 2018 which is alleged to be operating from two locations with some assessors and justices whose names do not appear in the Gazette.
Shanghala has since made investigations conducted during his visit.
“Only the Kambazembi Community Court staff whose names appear in the Government Gazette were allowed to attend the meeting. The Honourable Minister gave everyone a chance to make and respond to allegations to determine the exact reason for the operations of the Community Court grinding to a halt.” ?
“After five hours of deliberation, the Honourable Minister indicated that he would inspect both locations for the community court and then communicate his final decision to the Community Court for the attention of the Clerk of the Court and copied to the Chief,” says a press statement from the ministry of justice. ?
Shanghala has emphasised that no person shall conduct or exercise the authority of any community court without having been duly appointed and announced in the government gazette.
He said that such constitutes a criminal offence and that he would lay charges and request the Prosecutor-General to prosecute such persons before the courts.
“Under no circumstances will it be tolerated that there are multiple community courts in the community,” reads the statement.