GWERU: The absence of a permanent High Court in the Midlands province has become a major source of worry, cases piling up as the High Court Circuit has not sat since last year.
The Gweru High Court circuit sits three times a year for criminal cases in the Midlands Province, the only other option being Bulawayo and Harare.
Officiating at the opening of the 2022 legal year in Gweru, Justice Evangelista Kabasa emphasised the need for a permanent high court in the Midlands province to reduce costs.
“Midlands is yet to have a permanent High court established. Let me, therefore, add my voice to the clarion call for the establishment of a permanent High Court in the Midlands capital.
“We cannot talk of a Zimbabwe in which world-class justice prevails as our vision and with core values that speak to, among other things, accessibility of court facilities, when we still have hordes of litigants travelling to either Harare or Bulawayo to access justice,” said Justice Kabasa.
The COVID-19 pandemic had its toll on the justice delivery system in the Midlands province as the High court circuit failed to sit at the beginning of last year.
“As already alluded to, the COVID 19 pandemic containment measures which necessitated a lockdown at the beginning of the tear 2021 meant that there was no Gweru Circuit which had been pencilled for the period 25 January to 5 February 2021.
“This meant that the 13 criminal trials which had been set down did not kick-off. The net effect of this unfortunate occurrence meant that 13 cases which could have been finalised were added back to the backlog of criminal cases,” Justice Kabasa added.
The Midlands province has a backlog of 105 cases that are ready for trial with 50 under investigation.