CHIEF Justice Sakoane Sakoane says one of the major challenges the judiciary encounters in the execution of its mandate includes a lean bench that hinders the High Court from effectively delivering on its constitutional and statutory decrees.
Feb. 2, 2023
3 min read
Lean bench hinders delivery of justice – Sakoane
Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane
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He made these remarks on Wednesday this week during the official opening of the High Court that marked the beginning of the first session and the first term of the year.
The ceremony serves as a platform through which the judiciary accounts to the public at large about its role and duties.
It is through this same occasion that the Judiciary informs the end users and beneficiaries of its services about challenges it encounters in the execution of its mandate and the progress it has made in the execution of its mandate.
This was the first time after two years that the ceremony was held as it had ended just before the COVID-19 era.
Chief Justice Sakoane who was appointed to the helm of the High Court in November 2020 was also making his maiden appearance to the public during the annual event.
In his remarks, he was quick to note that despite all the setbacks encountered, owing to among others, the COVID-19 pandemic, the judiciary, however, also saw a number of achievements in the past two years.
Chief among them, he highlighted the opening of the northern division of the High Court in Tšifa-li-mali, Leribe on May 2022.
The court, which has been allocated two judges serves the residents of Leribe, Butha-Buthe, and Mokhotlong.
“Another achievement was the recruitment of seven new judges of the High Court. It is approximately a year of service now for these newly hired judges,” the Chief Justice noted.
With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU), he said, the court was able to launch a judiciary website through which the public can get access to documents such as judgments in order to be up to date with judiciary affairs.
“In partnership with the EU and the World Vision, the judiciary is also in the process of upgrading the Children’s Courts to internationally acceptable child-friendly standards.”
The court, Sakoane further showed, has a work schedule that has proven effective in which judges are given goals in their deliverance of judgments.
“Upon the completion of a case, the court has agreed that 90 days should not pass by without a judge having written and delivered a judgment,” he said.
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He explained that this makes things easier for the public as even if one decides to appeal a case, they can readily do so as there would be a written judgment available.
Notwithstanding the remarkable successes that the courts have had, several challenges were also encountered over the past months.
These, Sakoane said include an overbearing financial crisis that hinders the effective delivery of services and justice by the courts at all levels.
“High-profile cases also seem to be dragging as the prosecution has decided to use one prosecutor for these trials so the prosecutor deals with one case at a time,’’ he said, adding that if the prosecution could utilise different prosecutors, that would speed up proceedings.
The judiciary has also submitted a draft of motions and bills to the National Reforms Centre through which it hopes to change its administration form like in other countries.
Sakoane said their motion is that there should be a Supreme Court put in place with a view to expediting the delivery of justice.