Lack of magistrates frustrates lawyers

24 June 2020 | Justice

ILENI NANDJATO

OSHAKATI



A lack of magistrates in northern courts is frustrating lawyers operating in this area.

They say there is only one magistrate at the Ondangwa Magistrate's Court, who is responsible for the courts at Outapi and Okahao too.

Efforts to get comment from the justice ministry failed as questions sent to Ockert Jansen, the deputy director for public relations, went unanswered.



Complaints in vain

A group of northern lawyers claim to have written several letters of complaint to the executive secretary of the judiciary, Yvonne Dausab, before she was appointed as justice minister.

The lawyers are Nicky Ngula, Beatrix Bianca Boois, Tuwilika Shailemo, Melvin Mukaya Nyambe, John Kandara, Marcia Amupolo, Ndayapo Mukwata, Charmaine Tjihero, Grace Mugaviri and Petrina Hango.

They say the situation means that bail applications are not heard. According to the lawyers, northern magistrates are not willing to hear formal bail applications without first being consulted by the legal practitioner bring such application. “In addition to the above, the magistrates are demanding that they be the ones who dictate when formal bail hearings will take place, without any regard to the fact that bail applications are urgent in nature,” they claim.

Abuse of rights

“The system is in violation of the human rights of ordinary Namibians who are stuck in custody because [there is] no magistrate to hear their matters,” the lawyers argue.

They have asked the Law Society of Namibia to urgently take up the matter with the Magistrates Commission, they added.

“A number of us have taken up this matter with the divisional magistrate, on an individual basis, who has directed us to take up the matter with the heads of stations; however, the position remains the same and we cannot in all conscience remain silent when the rights of ordinary men and women are being trampled on in front of our very eyes on numerous occasions.”

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