Justice Kenneth Mulife has bemoaned the deplorable state of the Livingstone High Court building, which was built back in 1910.
Speaking during the ceremonial opening of the 2020 criminal sessions of Livingstone High Court, Monday, Judge Mulife told Southern Province Minister Edify Hamukale that the challenges presented to government over the state of the High Court last year still remained unresolved.
“I wish to note at the outset that most of the challenges that we recommended to you at the 2019 opening of the High Court sessions were not resolved. Most of them are perennial and beyond the control of the Judiciary. They, thus, require the intervention of the Executive. They include the following: inadequate and deplorable infrastructure at all levels of our court system (The High Court building in which we have hosted you today is testimony) and insufficient numbers of personnel (both adjudicators and support staff), that as it may, we are hopeful that these challenges shall be surmounted in the near future,” Judge Mulife said.
He, however, said that despite the challenges that the justice system was faced with in Livingstone, the provincial administration had devised certain initiatives, such as the introduction of court-annexed mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism and soon-to-be introduced Livingstone City Council (LCC) fast track court, among others.
Justice Mulife said the Council fast track court would adjudicate cases that violated the regulations governing food handling, operation of bars, restaurants, street vending and enforcement of building regulations.
“The benefits of having an orderly and clean city cannot be over emphasized,” he said.
Justice Mulife added that mediation had also been introduced to the subordinate court as a result of the realization that civil litigation in the subordinate courts was steadily increasing.
“Mediation shall bring a lot of benefits to court users. It shall expedite the resolution of legal disputes and, thereby, decongest courts’ cause-lists. It will also empower parties to resolve their disputes ex-curia with the assistance of neutral third-party and this reduces the costs of litigation, while achieving a mutually-satisfactory agreement that preserves and protects the parties’ relationships,” he said.
On GBV, Justice Mulife said that the present law ensured that there were minimal chances of victims withdrawing cases from courts or perpetrators interfering with evidence.
On the number of cases handled by the Livingstone High Court, Justice Mulife said last year, a total of 465 criminal cases were handled of which 390 were disposed off.
“Only 75 cases were carried forward to this year. In terms of civil cases, 310 cases were brought forward from 2018 and we received 177 new cases bringing the total number of civil caseload in the year 2019 to 487, out of this figure 278 were disposed off, leaving 209 cases pending at the close of 2019. Out of 2019 pending cases, 108 are cases assigned to judges on the task-force on backlog. Therefore, the pending number of civil cases for the two judges stationed at the Livingstone High Court is 101,” said Justice Mulife.
And Hamukale took the opportunity to clarify that there was nothing he could do over a farm land owned by a foreign investor, which led to a riot last week as the court had ruled in his favour.
Hamukale also complained that Zambians were losing their culture by only speaking English to their children.
“We are losing it in the country. We have many homes where children just know English! Let us not take pride in our children speaking English, it is not a measure of intelligence, it’s just a language just like any other. Knowing your language adds to your CV. We are really losing our culture,” bemoaned Hamukale.