The country’s ‘creaking and outdated’ criminal justice system appears to be failing its people something that challenges the country’s leadership to act swiftly to step up efforts to make it more efficient.
Addressing University of Botswana (UB) students at a seminar on Botswana’s criminal justice that was held at UB on Friday, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi said Batswana were not happy with how the country’s criminal justice system operates.
He said that people’s reactions during his Kgotla meetings regarding the issue of bail is a serious concern that challenges the country to step up efforts in making the criminal justice system more efficient.
“You are all aware that of recent some accused persons granted bail chose to be repeat offenders and kept sending the police on a wild goose chase. The voice of the citizens regarding this matter is now rising in protest against bail and protracted delays in our criminal justice system,” Kgathi said.
He said that some people have even proposed extreme constitutional amendments of presuming accused persons guilty until they prove themselves innocent. He however stated that presuming one guilty cannot be done as it would certainly run contrary to one’s constitutionally entrenched rights.
“These concerns are a sign that we must step up efforts in making our criminal justice system more efficient so that offenders are tried speedily,” Kgathi said.
He however promised citizens that their concerns were not falling on deaf ears, stating that the defence ministry was working hard to eradicate backlog
Kgathi conceded that the country’s justice system suffered from a lot of problems, the major one being delay of cases as it can take years for the courts to resolve minor disputes that ordinarily take months.
He said as of January 2018 there were 2,899 criminal cases pending compared to 3,988 cases in September last year.
This development has undoubtedly resulted in the growing loss of faith in the country’s court system owing to people’s increasing insecurity on the criminal justice system.
Of recent, members of the public have been threatening on social media to take the law into their hands being displeased with the way the courts have been granting bailouts, especially to murder accused persons.
Meanwhile, Kgathi promised criminal justice graduates opportunities in the country’s justice system, but challenged them not to think they will all be absorbed by the job market, hence they should consider venturing into business to create jobs.
He urged students to use their creativity to expand their career scope beyond the public service and take advantage of youth empowerment initiatives to create more job opportunities for other citizens.
Commenting students called for an urgent identification of the various problems responsible for the inefficiency of the justice system and the evolution of ways of ensuring its efficiency.