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COVID-19 disturbs courts' schedules again

Francistown High Court PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
FRANCISTOWN: Government’s recent ban on travel between COVID-19 Zones in the country reared its ugly head again at Magistrates and High Courts leading to forced postponement of cases once more.

The movement permits which only allow essential workers to travel between zones mean that on remand prisoners and other accused persons who live outside the Greater Francistown Zone could not travel here to attend their court matters.

The  ban saw Judges at the High Court dispensing their rulings only in the presence of prosecutors and defence counsels.

In one such instance before Justice Phadi Solomon, who announced that she would be retiring in about two or three months, an accused person who had appealed his conviction and sentence in relation to two cases of stock theft was convicted in absentia because he could not travel to Francistown from Rakops due to the ban.

The accused’s unsuccessful application means that the

State may end up incurring more costs to re-arrest him since he may be tempted to evade justice once he learns that the scales of justice have tilted against him.

In retrospect, it means that prosecutors and defence attorneys who had travelled to Francistown from outside the Greater Francistown Zone had wasted their resources. Some prosecutors had traveled from as far as Maun while some defence lawyers had traveled from Gaborone.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a bane in the efficient running of the judiciary and other sectors ever since it  was first reported in Botswana. Some magistrates and Judges have succumbed to the virus which led to the rescheduling of matters they were to preside over.


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