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Register cases when investigations are over – CJ

MPHO MOKWAPE
Attorneys during the opening of the legal year PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Chief Justice, Terrence Rannowane is of the view that cases, especially criminal ones should only be registered after completion of investigations and the prosecution is ready for trial.

Rannowane said that weak prosecution cases frustrate the public expectation when offenders are released on account of inconclusive evidence or withdrawal of cases.

Delivering the legal year address, Rannowane said investigators need to sharpen their skills to improve their ability to speed up and complete their investigations before registering cases with the courts.

“I strongly hold the view that unless there are exceptional and pressing reasons, cases should only be registered with the courts when investigations are complete and prosecution is ready to call witnesses and start the trial,” he said.

The Chief Justice also said registering cases and taking ages to complete the investigation process was hurting the image of the justice system and that of the country as a whole.

He highlighted that in order to improve the overall case disposal rates by the courts, there was need particularly in criminal cases to sharpen the skills of the investigating officers to improve their ability to speed up and complete their investigations before registering cases with the courts.

“This will obviate the bringing of weak prosecution cases to court which, more often than not, frustrates public expectation that justice would be served when suspects or offenders are released due to lack of evidence or the cases are withdrawn,” he said.

In the eyes of observers, Justice Rannowane could be referenced to many cases that have appeared in the justice system recently especially high profile ones.

Cases involving high profile figures such as the National Petroleum Fund (NPF), former spy chief, Isaac Kgosi, Carter Morupisi and many others have come before courts, some without any investigations being done,

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or having been done.

Often the cases have been postponed with prosecution seeking more time to investigate while the public has been left wondering if at all the suspects would be prosecuted.

The prosecution has often faced public scrutiny for rushing to courts to register cases when they have enough evidence or they have not gathered anything at that particular time. 

Meanwhile commenting on social media and the judiciary, Rannowane said the 2019 elections have been a hard one to deal with.

He said following the elections, they have had to deal with a new phenomenon unknown to the judiciary as some judges of the High Court and the Court of Appeal have been subjected to abusive and disparaging accusations in both their personal and professional capacity by some unknown people in social media.

“The judiciary as a whole was not spared. Let me assure the nation that if that was meant to intimidate us, it shall never work because we take our oath of office to do justice without fear or favour,” he said.

He however assured the public that freedom of speech was protected by the Constitution and also that unfounded attack or spreading fake news about judges and the judiciary on social media should have the potential to erode public confidence.

Commenting further on spreading fake news about judges on social media, Rannowane after quoting Professor Key Dingake in one of his pieces published in Mmegi, said that the cowards who engage in such despicable conduct should come forward in the open to voice their grievances, if any through the right channels.

 



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