Leonard Ncube, in Hwange
PARLIAMENT should come up with a mandatory jail term for perpetrators of violence, particularly those using machetes and other dangerous weapons.
This was said by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo when she officially opened the Hwange High Court circuit in Hwange yesterday.
Justice Moyo said since last year the country has been under siege from machete wielding gangs especially in the mining areas hence the need to come up with deterrent sentences.
“Society at large must have confidence in the criminal justice system. Faced with such machete gang menace, nothing stops the legislature from crafting a mandatory minimum custodial sentence in cases where a person is convicted in this new wave of violence.
“Perhaps that would go a long way in instilling discipline among those rogue elements who see violence as a way of life. We cannot afford as a country to live within a society where it has suddenly become fashionable to be a gangster wielding a machete and hacking other citizens. That cannot be a vein of a democratic society. A passionate call is thus being made to all the relevant authorities to come up with stern measures that will ensure that our country maintains peace,” said Justice Moyo.
The judge said the country cannot afford to be a violent society.
She said one of the 20 murder cases lined up for hearing during the two-weeks circuit was related to machete killings.
“With the advent of machete gangs, the province needs to guard against violence lest the machete wave takes it by storm. There are 20 murder cases lined up for this circuit, luckily for the province, it appears the machete vice has not yet become rampant as there is only one case in the cause list out of the 20 cases lined up, where a machete was used, ” said Justice Moyo.
Last year the circuit had 39 cases and 20 matters were completed.
The province covers Hwange, Lupane, Nkayi and Victoria Falls Police districts and in 2019 there were 65 murder cases with Nkayi and Lupane topping the list with 26 and 22 cases respectively.
Hwange had 13 cases and Victoria Falls four.
Justice Moyo urged citizens to desist from engaging in violence to solve disputes.
She said the Bulawayo High Court will continue working hard to clear backlogs especially after a fifth judge, Justice Evangelista Kabasa, was deployed to the station to become the second female judge in Bulawayo.
She commended stakeholders for working in partnership in justice delivery, but called for more commitment towards civil cases where she said lawyers were causing a backlog by failing to attend court.
She said the judiciary will remain committed to fighting corruption, as the vice can derail development if it is not stopped.
Present at the official opening were Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo, Chiefs Shana, Nekatambe, Mabhikwa and Chief Whange’s representative, officer commanding police in Matabeleland North Commissioner Charles Nhete, Zimbabwe National Army 1.2 infantry Batallion commanding officer Major Mukurinyarevo, heads of Government departments, local authorities official, deputy officer commanding Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services in Matabeleland North Assistant Commissioner Greenfield Bulala, captains of industry and the business community, National Prosecuting Authority and Judiciary Service Commission officers.