High Court responds to article

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 02 August 2016   |   By C Sibanda
lawyers walking out of the court of appeal lawyers walking out of the court of appeal

The above article by an anonymous author purports to chronicle instances of “unrepentant, unremorseful and militated murderers, rapists and drug kingpins” accused persons brought before the Courts being released on bail under questionable circumstances. The author insinuates that the Judicial System and the Criminal Justice Agencies are beholden to these accused persons who are granted bail under questionable circumstances and thereafter re-offend. The Administration of Justice wishes to inform the public that the concept of bail is derived from the cardinal principle that an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent Court. This principle is enshrined in Sections 5 (3) (b) and 10 (2) (a) of our Constitution, the Supreme Law of the country. The aforesaid Sections broadly restate the right to liberty and empower the Courts to entertain bail for any offence.

The public is further informed that all offences are bailable and that Courts engage in a balancing exercise in bail applications based on the material placed before them. Cognisant of the fact that the issue of bail is of public interest, the Justice System being sensitive and responsive, from time to time engages key Stakeholders, the last Stakeholders Workshop on bail was held in Palapye on 22 March 2013. The Workshop discussed challenges relating to bail, and the public perception on issues of bail and resolved on regular interface amongst the Stakeholders. The statistics at our disposal show that for the past 24 months 79 cases of habit forming drugs (cocaine, dagga, etc) were registered at Gaborone, Lobatse, Mochudi and Molepolole Magistrates Courts, of which 29 were convictions, 9 acquittals, 16 withdrawn due to insufficiency of evidence whilst 25 are pending. During the past 12 months 48 cases of habit forming drugs were registered in the Northern Region (Francistown, Kasane, Masunga and Maun Magistrates Courts) of which 33 were convictions, 4 acquittals, 2 withdrawn due to lack of evidence with 9 still pending before the Courts.

The Administration of Justice wishes to reassure members of the public and the nation at large that Judicial Officers are men and women of integrity whose conscience is bound by the oath of office they take to do justice without fear, favour or ill-will. Further, all Judicial Officers are governed by a Judicial Code of ethics and conduct. Based on the foregoing, the insinuation that some Judicial Officers connive with criminals is unjustified and only serves to besmirch and undermine the clean Judiciary we are renowned for.