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Irregularities tarnish the justice system

Staff Writer
Irregularities and non-compliance with court rules are likely to have a bad impact on Botswana's justice system if something is not done as a matter of urgency.

The President of the Court of Appeal,Justice Nick McNally said yesterday at the end of the criminal session of the Court of Appeal that this development is "unfortunate" and needs to be corrected as a matter of urgency.

He was confirming concerns raised by several judges who presided over appeal cases in which they noted that trials were not run properly.

The judges have noticed that court procedures were not fully explained to accused persons and not complied with.  The judges also noted that in some instances the magistrates did not accept defence statements from the accused persons or even refused to accept their witnesses.

They further noted that even prosecutors ignore the basic principles of a fair trial at the expense of the accused persons who are later jailed because they did not have defence lawyers. Most of the appellants who complained of irregularities were those who represented themselves

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during trial.

The judges sent correspondence to the Chief Justice, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Attorney General about the irregularities that will definitely impact badly on the country's justice system. The Registrar and Master of the High Court, Godfrey Nthomiwa could not be reached for comment yesterday as he was said to be attending a memorial service for one of his colleagues at the time of going to press.

In some incidences that have been witnessed by reporters, even court interpreters would shame accused persons in front of a fully packed public gallery. "Rra gatwe o iphile dikobo ebile o ne o matlholaadidira, o feditse bana ba batho," a court interpreter once said to an accused person to the amusement of the people who were in court. They make fun of the confused accused persons who may be coming to court for the first time.



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