LUSAKA High court judge Susan Wanjelani says corruption in the dispensation of justice is a big challenge in the judiciary.
And judge Wanjelani says defilement cases in Southern Province appear to have reduced.
Meanwhile, Livingstone High Court judge in-charge Chilombo Phiri has appealed to members of the public to report corrupt judicial workers instead of waiting until there was a situation of a sour deal.
Speaking during the ceremonial opening of the criminal session at the Livingstone High Court yesterday, judge Wanjelani warned that corrupt judicial officers would not only be dismissed but prosecuted.
“I wish to state that as the judiciary, we do acknowledge that corruption in the dispensation of justice is a big challenge. This is because where there is corruption, there can be no justice,” judge Wanjelani said.
She admitted that there were corrupt officers in the Ministry of Justice.
“We do have in our rank and file some officers who are tempted to engage in corrupt activities. As an institution, our resolve is to get rid of all such officers in addition to having them prosecuted in order to maintain public confidence in a judiciary that is accountable to the law,” judge Wanjelani said.
She added that there was a commitment to fight corruption in the judiciary.
Justice Wanjelani further urged all members of the judiciary to embrace a vision of the system that required them to be true ambassadors of an honourable, efficient and effective judiciary that served the public diligently without fear or favour.
She further tabulated the difficulties being faced by the judicial system in the province such as the shortage of court rooms and offices in Livingstone, forcing the High Court to share offices with the Subordinate Courts.
“The situation is equally dire in Choma, Monze, Namwala, and Mazabuka districts where Subordinate Courts have one court room against three or more magistrates…the situation was worsened by the fact that there no funds were allocated for capital projects in 2017…We also have lack of transport at Kalomo, Namwala, Monze, Mazabuka and Itezhi-Teshi stations which adversely affects the delivery of justice…GRZ House Number 40181/1371 Airport Road which is meant to accommodate the Honourable Judge is in a dilapidated state and needs urgent
rehabilitation,” said judge Wanjelani who hoped that the apparent reduction in defilement cases was due to deterrent sentences meted out by the courts and not due to people opting not to report the offences.
And judge Phiri warned that she would deal with any corrupt officers in Livingstone.
Meanwhile, Southern Province minister Edify Hamukale has called for stiffer penalties to deal with illegal garbage disposal.