More resources for the Office of the Judiciary – Chief Justice
“I wish to assure you that the Judiciary of Namibia is committed to playing its part in nation building by strengthening the rule of law through the delivery of quality and timely justice,” said the Chief Justice, Hon Peter Shivute last week when he officially marked the beginning of the 2018 legal year.
As has become custom, the Chief Justice used this platform to enlighten the legal fraternity on the progress in the administration of justice, to provide an overview of the achievements of the judiciary and to advocate the need for legal reform.
Lamenting conditions in the Magistrates Courts, the Chief Justice said “During the period January to September 2017 the Magistrates Courts registered a total of 38,435 cases and finalised 19,140 – giving us a percentage total of 50% cases completed. This is of great concern to me because at this rate we are building up a backlog of cases in the Magistrates Courts. The inadequacy of court rooms, the malfunctioning and not enough recording equipment, and the shortage of both judicial officers and court support staff have been cited by the Magistracy as the reasons for the less than satisfactory statistics that I have just described.”
However, earlier in his address he talked about improvements in the High Court and Supreme Court, saying that fifteen jurists are currently in training for consideration as High Court judges and acting judges at a later stage.
Speaking at the same event, the President, HE Dr Hage Geingob reminded the judiciary that they are tasked with the responsibility of being guardians and servants of the laws of Namibia. This is a task you are expected to carry out with patriotism, dedication and integrity. Yours is a profession of trust. A noble duty, an indispensable function of our democratic construct,” he said.
Quoting one of Africa’s greatest original thinkers, Chinua Achebe, the President continued “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised. In times of abundance, it may be easy to hold your ground, but in times of scarcity one’s integrity is truly tested.”
Referring to the impact the recession has on the execution of justice, the President said “We are aware that we currently face resource shortages across the board. The situation calls for us to tighten our purse strings and trim the fat. However, under no circumstances should financial difficulties be used as an excuse to compromise integrity.”
“I note the fact that there is a problem of understaffing due to budgetary constraints, and I am further well aware that this has an effect on the effectiveness of the judiciary. However, the challenges we face present a true test of our integrity and we should pass this test by bluntly refusing to be compromised, no matter how difficult the situation is,” he said.
Captured at the Legal Year Opening earlier in February, are the Chief Justice, Hon Peter Shivute (front left) and the President, HE Dr Hage Geingob (front right) with the full complement of High Court judges and Supreme Court justices. (Photograph by Margaretha Steinmann)