Monday, October 20, 2014
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Judiciary Strike Paralyses Justice System

LILONGWE: The on-going strike by the judiciary support staff in the country is causing worrisome congestion in police holding cells because the police service has no ready option to deal with the situation.

The workers begun an indefinite strike on Monday January 9 in a desperate attempt to force government implement their new conditions of service as approved by parliament way back in 2006.

The strike has also forced most other court workers such as judges and magistrates to stay away as their tasks are directly linked to the junior workers. This is giving the picture the whole judiciary is on strike.

Police prosecutors and lawyers have also been hit hard by the strike.

People are being sent back home without accessing justice.

Our reporter further says a young woman burst into tears Tuesday outside court in Nsanje district after learning she could not sue her bully husband.

In Karonga, our reporter Isaac Chawinga says some of the people complained outside the Karonga Magistrate Court saying that the strike is denying them justice and signing of some essential documents.
He says the striking court workers are spending their time on the verandah of chatting and listening to the radio as scores of people return home unsatisfied.
One striking court worker told Zodiak Online that all cases scheduled for hearing and have been adjourned until further notice.

And our reporter in Balaka, Moses Masiye , says police in the district  have been greatly affected; as the cells are congested hence police cannot grant bail on several cases.

On the other hand in Chitipa, our reporter, Adams Undaninge, says the district prison   assistant-in-charge, Assistant Superintendent Maiden Thawiha, says the sit-in has compounded the problems the facility as suspects have overstayed on remand.

And in the lakeshore district of Nkhotakota, our reporter Shakira Chimbaza, says  Nkhotakota Police Officer-In-charge, Assistant Commissioner, Lovemore Mwabumba  told  her  that suspects with serious cases are still being kept in custody and those with minor  cases are being given police bail.

According to our reporter, the development has also affected Nkhotakota Prison as at the moment it has about 30 remandees who were expected to appear before court.

Nkhotakota Prisons Officer-In-charge, Senior Superintendent, Major Mzima there is congestion at the prison, as it is currently keeping 285 inmates instead of 150 inmates.

Still along the lakeshore, in Salima, the police has described the current sit in by judiciary personnel as a big burden to them police cells are too congested as they are not able to take suspects to court.

Salima Police Officer-In-charge, Senior Assistant Commissioner Peter Mangani, said the number of suspects has shot to more than double from a normal number of about 15 suspects per cell.

He said though they are giving bail to suspects with minor cases, its hard for them to release suspects with serious offences on police bail a development he said is leading to unnecessary congestions in cells.

This is not the first time for the judiciary staff to stage a strike over the matter.

They went on strike in 2010, again accusing government for failing to implement their salary and conditions of service approved by parliament in 2006.

Meanwhile, as the strike by the judiciary staff has entered day three, unconfirmed reports indicate that authorities are engaging in talks over the matter.—Zodiak Online



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