A number of sitting magistrates are complaining about the “discomfort” that police officers place on them on a daily basis at court.
Observations show that magistrates already have their work cut out for them, having to deal with over 20 matters per day, without the necessary requirements.
One example was seen recently when the magistrate called an “old matter”. That matter had been called nine months earlier.
The preliminary inquiry had begun, but, to the surprise of the magistrate, none of the witnesses was ever present in court. The defendant is sitting in his jail cell waiting for the prosecution to summon the witnesses.
According to a lawyer, if the accused waits on the prosecution, “he would be there until he turns grey”.
The defendant’s lawyer had noted to the court that this is a new form of punishment that is meted out to prisoners.
Upon hearing that the prosecution had not done anything, since the defendant’s last court appearance, to summon the witnesses, the presiding magistrate had to dispense justice.
She allowed the defendant to have his pretrial liberty, with the lawyer’s reassurance of his client returning to the court. Another peeve of the magistrates involves police officers absconding from giving evidence.
The presiding magistrates would now have to issue “an arrest warrant” for the officers. They added that, when the warrant is issued, their fellow officers don’t enforce the law, something that brings the case at a “stand still.”
The magistracy is now posed with a “stiff task” of determining what should be the next step for the case.
According to one magistrate, the police are only interested in “arresting the people, but when it comes to prosecution the same people can go free.”
The magistrates are also saying, in some cases, that the prosecution is not to be blamed, since the prosecutors are often not given the necessary equipment which would make them more efficient.
In some instances, “case dockets” are missing and certain prisoners are not being sent to court for reasons unknown. Police prosecutors, on any given day, are peeved because they also have to fall in with normal police work.
This, said a leading police official, leaves very little time for them to really study files and other things associated with their substantive work.
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