11 magistrates purged in run-up to anti-corruption court launch

08Sep 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
11 magistrates purged in run-up to anti-corruption court launch
  • According to the Chief Justice, one helped a litigant open one case in two separate courts, another used the official court stamp for his own interests, and yet another presided over inheritance proceedings without the presence of a death certificate

THIRTY-FOUR employees of the judiciary, including 11 magistrates, have been sacked for misconduct as officials continue to put final touches to the procedural blueprint for the new -

Chief Justice Chande Othman

anti-corruption and economic crimes court set to become operational “soon”, Chief Justice Chande Othman said yesterday.

Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam after receiving a report on case proceedings throughout Tanzania’s courts system from January to August this year, the CJ explained that the errant magistrates have been relieved of their duties since last month for various follies amounting to breach of discipline and work ethics.

They range from helping a litigant open one case in two separate courts; unauthorised use of the official court stamp; and presiding over inheritance proceedings without the presence of a death certificate.

On the highly anticipated anti-corruption and economic crimes court, Othman said a rules and regulations handbook will be published next week to pave the way for relevant case hearings to commence once an ongoing training programme for judges to be assigned to the court has been completed.

Among other things, the handbook will spell out the regulations regarding witness security, how to file a case, and the proper procedures for handling case hearings, he said.

He asserted that because the bill for creating the court has already been assented into law by President Magufuli since July, there is nothing to stop it from becoming operational immediately once everything has been put in place.

According to the chief justice, steps are being taken to appoint more High Court judges in the country as 15 of them have been assigned to the new anti-corruption division, causing an acute shortage.

He said at least 145 applications have been received for the position of judge since President Magufuli gave his permission for the process of filling the gap to get underway. There are also a number of judicial workers in line to be promoted, Othman added.

Underlining the problem of shortage of judges, he noted that currently one judge in the High Court Land Division may be obliged to hear well over 400 cases a year, which is a big burden.

Explaining the ethical and disciplinary violations committed by the sacked magistrates in details, the CJ listed alcoholism and absenteeism as two of the biggest problems discovered.

He offered a few details, saying that one magistrate used an official court stamp against the law for his own interests, while another abused the judicial process by helping one person who filed a case in his court open another case on the same matter in a different court, thereby paving the way for two separate and probably conflicting court rulings on the same case.

Yet another magistrate filed an inheritance case without first ensuring the presence of a death certificate. According to Othman: “You can’t open an inheritance case without proof that the person whose estate is to be discussed has really died…that is a serious judicial error”.

Reading the judiciary report for January to August this year, High Court registrar Ilvin Mgeta said a total of 167,774 cases were decided upon nationwide from primary to High Court level during this period. Rulings were also issued on 48 out of 53 parliamentary and 186 out of 194 councillor petition cases filed after last year’s general election, Mgeta said.

On his part, Court of Appeal registrar John Kahyoza said the highest court in the land is currently handling 14 appeal cases arising from lower court rulings, including the Tanzania Revenue Appeals tribunal.