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During 2015, bursaries will be available to students to pursue their studies at a suitable institution for a law degree recognised in Namibia. The minimum requirements are:
Certified copy of mid year examination results
Certified copy of ID document
Certified copy of grade 12 certificate
Proof of Namibian citizenship
Proof of University admission
Click here to download the application form.
Closing date for applications: 3 November 2014
Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. No documents will be returned.
International Institute of Law Association Chief Executives
IILACE provides a focused forum for exchange of views and information of common interest of local, national and international executive officers of law societies and bar associations.
The purposes of IILACE are to:
(a) Facilitate the exchange of views and information between members on key issues affecting law associations, being law societies and bar associations; and develop a network for communication among chief executive officers of law societies and bar associations.
(b) Promote and defend the status and interests of the legal profession, law associations and the rule of law.
(c) Hold periodic forums for discussion of matters of mutual interest.
One of the most valuable benefits of IILACE membership is the ability to network and interact with other Chief Executives of law societies and bar associations from around the world. This is accomplished both through face-to-face meetings at the IILACE Annual Conference and also using emerging technologies.
IILACE held its inaugural meeting in Edinburgh in July 1999, followed by its annual meeting in Hong Kong in November 2000.
Thereafter the following conferences and meetings took place:
2001 – Chicago, USA
2002 – Durban, South Africa
2003 – Montreal, Canada
2004 – Auckland, New Zealand
2005 – Prague, Czech Republic
2006 - New York, USA
2007 – Singapore
2008 – Windhoek - hosted by the Law Society of Namibia (LSN)
2009 – Dublin, Ireland
2010 – Vancouver, Canada
2011 – Adelaide, Australia
2012 – Hong Kong
2013 – Berlin, Germany
The 2014 conference and annual general meeting took place during November in Cape Town, South Africa.
The following topics, inter alia, were discussed:
- CEO Leadership
- Successful Organizations
- Political Intelligence
- Nuts & Bolts Management
- Legal Education
- Legal Services
- Public Interest
- Ethics and Professional Responsibility of lawyers
The Executive Committee, elected at the aforementioned AGM for a two-year term, is:
Timothy McGee – President
Cord Bruegmann – Vice President
Retha Steinmann – Secretary / Treasurer
Officers at Large:
From left to right
Retha Steinmann (Law Society of Namibia) - Secretary / Treasurer
John Hoyles (Canadian Bar Association) – Honorary Executive Member
Jan Martin (South Australian Bar Association) - Immediate Past President
Cord Bruegmann (German Bar Association) - Vice President
Heidi Chu (Law Society of Hong Kong) - Officer at Large
Timothy McGee (Law Society of British Columbia) – President
Paula Littlewood (Washington State Bar Association) - Officer at Large
Makanatsa Makonese (SADC Lawyers’ Association) - Officer at Large
Election of International Bar Association Officers
The incoming Officers for the Bar Issues Commission and the Officers of the Legal Practice Division and the Section on Public and Professional Interest were also elected.
Mrs Deidre Sauls (Past President and Councillor of the Law Society of Namibia) was elected as one of the Bar Issues Commission (BIC) Officers.
The Bar Issues Commission (BIC) is the section within the IBA dedicated to member organisations. Its leadership provides programmes, projects and networking opportunities relating to the interests of bar associations and law societies, providing a platform for member organisations to discuss and work together on subjects of common interest.
Mrs. Sauls, in addition to her general duties as BIC Officer, will also be responsible for communications in Africa and Europe.
All terms of office will start from 1st January 2015 through to 31st December 2016.
Mrs Deidre Sauls
JP Karuaihe Trust Event 2014
and 8th Annual Judge JP Karuaihe Trust Fund Legal Excellence Awards
Held on Friday, 14 November 2013
For the second time, the Judge JP Karuaihe Awards ceremony took place on the same day and prior to the LSN’s AGM. Since the awards are centred around legal practitioners and law students, it creates an opportunity for the legal practitioners to be present when future legal practitioners and their peers are awarded for their achievements.
The Law Society’s involvement with the Judge JP Karuaihe Trust started during 2006 when the trustees of the JPK Trust approached the LSN to assist them in identifying and selecting deserving winners for the ‘legal excellence awards’ thereby acknowledging the dedication, efforts and commitment of legal practitioners who are enhancing and protecting the Rule of Law in Namibia and honouring their social responsibilities.
Best Student Awards 2013:
The LSN receives the names of the best students from the Justice Training Centre and University of Namibia.
This year’s winners of the Best Student Awards are:
- Best JTC Student for 2013: Daneala Beukes achieved 69.36% average in all 11 subjects.
- Best LLB Final Year Student for 2013: Sune de Klerk achieved 78% average.
Many of the members of the LSN contribute to society but they do not always ‘advertise’ their good deeds.
The LSN invited nominations from its members for the abovementioned categories.
The LSN’s committee considered:
- Applications received
- LSN members who appeared pro bono
- Members who presented training and who assisted the presenters with training
- Members who assisted the LSN with the free legal advice days
- Members who acted amicus curiae
The winners of the Legal Excellence Awards for Social Responsibility and Human Rights are:
- Legal Excellence Award for Human Rights: Office of the Ombudsman. Eileen Rako Received the award on behalf of the Office of the Ombudsman.
- Legal Excellence Award for Social Responsibility: Legal Assistance Centre. Toni Hancox received the award on behalf the LAC.
The LSN thanks the members of the LSN for their contributions made to society and trust that the good deeds will continue in future.
The LSN also thanks the JPK Trust for joining hands with the LSN to honour achievements and wishes the JPK Trust much success with their future endeavours. We trust that their commitment to provide bursaries to deserving candidates to study law and honouring achievements will go from strength to strength and that the LSN and the JPK Trust will have a long and fruitful relationship.
|Vicky Ya Toivo (Trustee JPK Trust)
Daneala Beukes (Best JTC Student 2013)
Alwyn Harmse (LSN President)
|Vicky Ya Toivo (Trustee JPK Trust),
Sune de Klerk (Best Final Year LLB Student 2013)
Alwyn Harmse (LSN President)
|Retha Steinmann (LSN Director)
Umbi Karuaihe-Upi, (JPK Trust)
Vicky Ya Toivo (Deputy Chairperson/Trustee JPK Trust)
Alwyn Harmse (LSN President),
At Slabber (Trustee JPK Trust and representing Dr Weder Kauta Hoveka - JPK Trust)
Corinna van Wyk (Legal Assistance Centre)
Eileen Rakow (Recipient, on behalf of the Office of the Ombudsman, of the Legal Excellence Award for Human Rights)
Toni Hancox (Recipeint, on behalf of the Legal Assistance Centre, of the Legal Excellence Award for Social Responsibility)
John Walters (Ombudsman)
Minister of Justice remarks on High Court Year Opening
ON THE OCCASION OF THE
OPENING OF THE HIGH COURT LEGAL YEAR 2014
BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE THE HONOURABLE TOMY NAMBAHU
WINDHOEK, 16 JANUARY 2014
VENUE: HIGH COURT
Honourable Judge President
Judges of the High Court
The Prosecutor General
The Permanent Secretary of Justice
President of the Law Society of Namibia
President of the Society of Advocates
The President of the Law Society of Namibia
The President of the Society of Advocates
Members of the legal fraternity,
The Chief Registrar and
Staff members of the High Court
All protocol observed
- It is an honor for me to have been invited to the opening of the High Court legal year 2014 and to make some remarks.
- The Ministry of Justice is committed to be a model provider of accessible and timely justice for all Namibians. It continues to endeavor in meeting its four strategic objectives: These are access to justice; timeliness of justice delivery; quality service delivery and promoting the integrity of the justice system as a whole.
- In that regard I must commend the High Court in having successfully completed the reform of the Rules of the High Court which will come into force on 16 April 2014.
- I also wish to commend the High Court for continuing to perfect the system of judicial case management, and embracing eJustice - an electronic document filing and case management system - developed by the Ministry of Justice in conjunction with the judiciary. The system is intended to boost efficiency in the delivery of justice. It will enable litigants to file civil court documents and manage case activities electronically and allow digital recording of court proceedings. Phase 1 of this initiative is near completion and will be operational during this year.
- As regards the new rules of court, I am pleased that it addresses issues of concern such as, accountability, transparency, alternative dispute resolution and the need to keep cost of litigation low as far as reasonably possible.
- Although Judicial Case Management is no longer a foreign process in the High Court, the new rules of court take the process further in providing for early judicial control from the beginning of a case until finalization.
- The Namibian Constitution provides for an independent judiciary. Independence, however, does not indemnify our judges from accountability; and in this respect I am pleased to note that the new rules of court, in addition to the guidelines set by the Judicial Service Commission during 2011, provide clear prescriptions on the delivery of judgments.
- Accountability goes hand in hand with transparency. It is fitting therefore that the new rules require the registrar to publish a report annually on the work of the court.
- Although we are making remarkable in the delivery of justice in civil matters, we must all be concerned about the ever increasing volume of criminal trials which the High Court is expected to adjudicate. Based on the briefing by the Judge President, it appears that the criminal roll is becoming unmanageable. We need to develop a strategy to deal with the amount of criminal trials faced by the High Court. Plea bargaining must be urgently investigated as a possible legislative response to the problem.
- Six of the 14 judges appointed at the High Court, are assigned to deal exclusively with criminal trials. From 1January 2013 to 31 December 2013, 38 criminal matters were transferred to the High Court for trial purposes, 23 of which were assigned to the main division and 15 to the Northern local division. In addition to the new matters registered with the High Court as at on 1 January 2013, 53 criminal cases were pending. Despite the fact that the diaries of the 6 judges assigned to deal exclusively with criminal matters had an occupancy rate in excess of 90%, they only managed to finalize 29 of the total of 91 criminal cases, amounting to an average of 32% cases finalized. The need for an urgent policy response is not in doubt.
- The Ministry of Justice extends its full support and appreciation to the judiciary of the Republic of Namibia and we will continue support its independence, honour and integrity as required by the Constitution.
- We must work together to reform our statutory framework in order to ensure speedy and quality justice.
- In conclusion, I wish to reiterate my continued support to the Hon. Judge President and the High Court in the discharge of their constitutional mandate. May you all have a productive legal year 2014.
I THANK YOU
LSN President's remarks on High Court Year Opening
ON THE OCCASION OF THE HIGH COURT LEGAL YEAR OPENING ON
THURSDAY, 16 JANUARY 2014
Honourable Judge President
Honourable Minister of Justice
My Lords and my Ladies
Permanent Secretary of Justice
Learned President of the Society of Advocates
Learned President of the Namibia Law Association
Distinguished legal practitioners and candidate legal practitioners
Registrar and staff of the High Court
Ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of the Council of the LSN I wish to thank the Honourable Judge President for the opportunity to address you on this auspicious occasion.
LOOKING BACK ON 2013:
2013 was an eventful year full of challenges but thankfully it was also a year of achievements for the LSN.
In line with our mission to ‘improve the standards of legal practice and as part of our continuing professional development we presented 10 training seminars which was well attended by various members in the Government service / the corporate environment and private practice.
Council in an attempt to reach out to all our members were fortunate to hold four circle meetings during which issues of legal practice and public and professional interest were addressed.
Grievances and issues of concern such as the JTC were raised by members and were brought to the attention of Council who are in the process of addressing same.
At the end of 2013 the LSN launched its first year book that captures and gives an overview of the events that happened during the year.
This transpired to be a useful reference tool especially to identify the new legal practitioners.
Looking at the statistics of our members at the time of lauching the yearbook there are 614 admitted legal practitioners of which:
- 46 are employed in government
- 98 are in the corporate environment
- 4 are at the Legal Assistance Centre
- 304 are practicing at 117 law firms
- 37 are practising with exemption certificates as members of the Society of Advocates
- 302 of these legal practitioners are from the racially disadvantaged group and
- 256 of our legal practitioners are females.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014:
Various challenges such as the introduction of the new High Court Rules and the E-Justice systems await the legal profession, as was with the Judiciary Case Management system which was introduced towards the end of 2011 and over come.
Before commenting on the focus and projects for 2014 of the Law Society, I wish to pause and stress:
- That it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to uphold the dignity of the Judiciary.
- To fiercely protect its independence to ensure the Application of the Rule of Law, and
- To refrain from promoting our own agendas to the detriment of the ultimate goal namely the due administration of Justice.
THE YEAR AND THE TASK AHEAD:
The Council and Directorate during its planning session on 13th January outlined certain projects and focus area for 2014.
- In line with our focus on continuing Professional Development a hectic program has already been prepared in 2013 and will be circulated among our members, which will give all legal practitioners (and candidate legal practitioners) in all the spheres of the profession an opportunity to improve their professional skills and competence.
- Another important focus area are the Amendments to the Legal Practitioners Act and the LSN is now at the stage where we are able to discuss the outcome of our strategic planning sessions on the proposed amendments to the Act, the policies and the principles with the Honourable Minister of Justice.
- Some of the aspects that require urgent attention are to streamline the Justice Training Centre system, to make the training of candidate legal practitioners more practical, to uplift the standards and to ensure the efficient functioning of the statutory independent Disciplinary Committee - to mention a few.
- As the governing body of all the legal practitioners in Namibia the LSN has a huge duty to inter alia, protect the integrity of the profession to maintain standards and to manage risks. We do not take these tasks lightly, however the scarcity of resources are a reality and even though making money is not our main priority times have unfortunately changed and the LSN is looking at its sustainability to meet our duties, projects and new demands.
- As poor communication or the lack thereof has been the culprit in many instances, focus will be placed on a comprehensive communication strategy as it is of the utmost importance that there should be constant and open communication between the LSN, Judiciary, stakeholders and the public.
- The LSN has also gone through a rather cumbersome and expensive process to update our website and data base.
- Our updated website will be launched by the end of January 2014 and will offer more benefits to our members and the public in general.
- Our long-term vision is to offer training opportunities for our members via the internet especially with the CPD point system in mind.
- We believe that our 17 standing committees, which deal with various aspects of the law and making recommendations to Council, will also be kept very busy this year as they will also be required to assist with keeping the educational information of the website current and interesting.
- In addition to the Year Book for 2014, the Director will also finalise a book this year, capturing the period from November 2005 to November 2012.
By the end of 2013, all the people we spoke to complained about a hectic a year and how tired they all felt.
I hope that the holiday season has revived our spirits and that after a well-deserved rest we are all looking forward to the challenges that 2014 may bring.
Let’s trust that 2014’s challenges will make us stronger and more resilient.
I thank you.
Judge-President remarks on High Court Year Opening
16TH JANUARY 2014
My Lords and My ladies
The Learned Prosecutor – General
The Honorable Deputy Minister of Justice
The Permanent Secretary of Justice
The Learned President of the Law Society of Namibia
The Learned President of the Society of Advocates
The Learned President of the Namibian Law Association
Distinguished Legal Practitioners and Candidate Legal Practitioners
The Registrar and staff members of the High Court
The Media representatives
Ladies and Gentlemen
 It is once again the beginning of the Legal year of the High Court, offering us yet another opportunity to evaluate and to assess the achievements and challenges of the past legal year and to share with you or plans for the year that lies ahead. I would like to thank the Minister, deputy minister and successive permanent secretaries of Justice for continuing to support the court in its quest for efficiency and the delivery of quality and prompt justice.
 I welcome Judge Cheda to the High Court bench. He had served as a judge of the High court of Zimbabwe and has recently joined the bench on a permanent basis. I am grateful for the contribution that he has already made since his appointment. Since the introduction of the judge’s clerkship program in 2011, the court continues to benefit immensely from their contribution and their invaluable contribution to the work of the judges and the court. The aim remains to increase the number of judge’s research assistants to equal the number of judges. While on this score, I wish to thank the Society of Advocates for having formalized the attachment of pupils as judge’s research assistants. I hope we will have more this year and in the years to come.
 I will say a little bit more about case management but at this stage I wish to place on record that the introduction of case management in the High Court and the introduction of the judge’s clerkship program have contributed a great deal to the efficiency of the court. That is amply demonstrated by our statistics for the legal year 2013. [statistics provided]
 I have the pleasure to inform you that the new rules of the high court have now been completed and will be published on 17 January 2014 in the Government Gazette No 5392 as Government Notice no 4 and will come into operation on the 16th April 2014.
 The new rules introduce very important innovations and measures. One such important aspect is the transparency and accountability which will be expected of the judges. The delivery of judgments will soon be strictly regulated and monitored. Judges will be required to deliver judgments according to prescriptions provided for in the rules as far as interlocutory motions are concerned and, generally, where judgment is reserved, to announce in public and in open court the date for delivery of reserved judgments. The registrar will be required under the new rules to publish a report annually on the work of the court which will contain all cases registered; number of cases completed, number of reserved judgments and the period during which the judgment remained reserved and the deadlines by which a judgment should have been delivered in terms of published guidelines approved by the Judicial Service Commission.
 The new rules place emphasis on early identification of the real issues in the case and the speedy finalization of cases. That imposes an obligation on the practitioners to develop a discipline of early preparation. Therefore legal practitioners will be required to prepare at an earlier stage in the case and to fully acquaint themselves with the facts surrounding their cases in order to formulate complete joint reports as will be required by the rules. Co-operation amongst lawyers, and with the managing judge, is and will remain an important requirement when the new rules come into force.
 Another important feature of the new rules is the introduction of a system of court annexed alternative dispute resolution. This procedure will offer the services of a mediator to assist in exploring the settlement of disputes without the need for formal trial. We are in the process of framing practice directions in terms of which ADR will be conducted in deserving cases. A training programme is being planned for potential mediators towards the end of this term.
 In anticipation of the coming into operation of the new rules on 16 April 2014, what remains to be done is the completion of the practice directions and the administrative manuals and process relating to e-justice. The first phase of e-justice will be implemented in the Main Division. Implementation in the NLD will follow towards the end of 2014. The e-justice web portal launch is scheduled to take place during February 2014 followed by the User Acceptance Testing process (UAT) that is scheduled to take place as from the 27th January - 21 March 2014. We call upon legal practitioners to co-operate during this exercise. The actual training and availability of training materials will be done during the first recess at the end of this term. In addition, and in preparation for the introduction of e-justice, legal practitioners practicing with fidelity fund certificates are advised to take the following steps and measures:
- Ensure that the practice has a functional desktop computer or laptop installed with the windows operating system able to convert word documents to PDF;
- Acquire internet connectivity;
- Acquire an email address;
- Acquire a printer;
- Acquire a scanner for purposes of scanning annexures to pleadings.
 The High court renovations are imminent towards the end of this term and it is therefore important that I point out that inconveniences will be experienced during this exercise. The main entrance will be relocated and the public parking at the front part of the building will be closed for public usage. Noise, dust and all other inconveniences will also be experienced during the renovation.
 Taking the cue from the Minister’s remarks, I need to focus a little on the High Court’s criminal work. Statistics show that 38 criminal trials and 220 criminal appeals were registered in 2013. The 38 criminal trials were distributed amongst three judges at the Main Division and two at the Northern Local Division. Only 29 of the criminal trials were finalised. I am concerned, as are my colleagues in the criminal division, that very soon we are going to be completely overwhelmed by the volume of criminal trials which the Prosecutor-General, exercising her powers under the CPA, chooses to indict in the High Court. Last year we were already setting down cases for 2014 and looking towards 2015. The criminal trial roll of the judges in the criminal division is already full for 2014 and many cases are waiting to be set down for trial. The consequence is that all cases that are trial-ready this year are likely to be allocated trial dates in 2015 and beyond. We simply do not have the physical facilities and judicial resources to try all the cases which are trial-ready in a particular year.
 It is common knowledge that criminal trials in the High Court, on average, last more than 30 days and part-heard cases are more the rule than the exception. We have designed a criminal justice system which is increasingly proving unsustainable. We have to look at innovative ways of dealing with our criminal cases. It is important therefore that, as a country, we earnestly investigate the possibility of introducing plea bargaining in our criminal justice system to serve as an incentive to accused persons to plead guilty. Current prosecution policy discourages guilty pleas as accused persons do not see any incentive in pleading guilty. I am therefore encouraged by Government policy which encourages investigation of plea-bargaining as a viable legislative intervention.
 I am hopeful that 2014 will be a year of progress, innovation and co-operation between the courts, policy makes and the organised profession in our quest to deliver quality and prompt justice to our people.
I thank you.
Prosecutor-General remarks on High Court Year Opening
16 TH JANUARY 2014
REMARKS BY THE PROSECUTOR-GENERAL OF NAMIBIA
My Lord Justice Petrus Damaseb, Judge President of the High Court of Namibia;
My Lords and Ladies, Judges of the High Court of Namibia;
Honourable Mr. Utoni Nujoma MP, Minister of Justice;
The Honourable, Ombudsman of Namibia;
President of the Law Society of Namibia;
President of the Namibia Law Association;
President of the Society of Advocates;
Esteemed legal practitioners present;
Esteemed State Advocates;
Esteemed Registrar of the High and Supreme Court and your staff;
All media practitioners here present,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Honourable Judge President, I wish to thank you for providing me with the opportunity to make a few remarks at the commencement of the High Court Legal Year 2014. This gathering has become an important date on which different role-players in the administration of justice in our country can reflect on the previous year and look forward to new challenges.
My Lord the Judge President, let me firstly convey my heartfelt compliments to you and to this august gathering, for a prosperous 2014. It is my hope that we shall all rededicate our efforts as officers of the court towards the delivery of justice in Namibia this year.
In his New Year’s message, His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba said that the nation’s success requires dedication and sacrifice, unity of purpose, resolve and perseverance. His Excellency urged all public office-bearers and every civil servant to make public institutions more efficient and more productive. He said, and I quote: “Let us work together to make the year 2014 a year of success in all that we do and a year of efficient service delivery, especially to our people who still live in difficult conditions.”
Last year I had the privilege to address all the Magistrates during Magistracy’s Retreat. I reiterated the importance of courts taking charge of cases before them and to, by a proper use of section 115 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 ensure that we do away with leading unnecessary evidence and to limit areas of dispute in a trial. Presiding officers are required to decide the disputes between the parties and should not have to listen to lengthy evidence on aspects which is not really in dispute. A proper use of section 115 does not require an accused to incriminate him or herself, but to properly define the areas of dispute between an accused and the State. As I have said on previous occasions, especially at the commencement of the High Court legal year 2011, that this is where presiding officers and defence counsel can greatly contribute to a speedier finalization of criminal cases.
My Lord the Judge President, as you would no doubt have realised by now, I will on this occasion attempt not to bore you with statistics and what my office considers it’s accomplishments in 2013, but rather to once again highlight an aspect that I believe is the most worrying aspects in the administration of justice in Namibia and one which needs the urgent attention of everyone involved. It is of course the growing backlog of criminal cases not finalized by our courts.
Generally “backlog” is defined as an accumulation of uncompleted work or matters needing to be dealt with. An overwhelming number of unconcluded cases are one of the most important reasons why our courts are criticized by the general public. Even if a relatively simple matter enters into the courts, they become entangled within the court system with no foreseeable end in sight. Multiple factors contribute to backlogs. Some are a lack of manpower coupled with the huge influx of cases, lengthy adjournments, and limited court resources or organization. No doubt it is in certain instances also caused by accused persons being allowed to play the system and to ensure that matters do not proceed until witnesses and complainants lose interest in the matter. The backlog problem is universal and experienced in courts around the globe. It a huge strain on court resources, undue delay, and adverse consequences on parties involved.
For example, Ashwani Kumar, a Law Minister of India, said that addressing the backlog was necessary to maintain India’s “constitutional democracy,” to adhere to “the rule of law” and to “guarantee order and stability in society.” Surely the same is true in Namibia.
My Lord the Judge President, it is in my opinion vital to come up with a case backlog reduction strategy to change the way case backlog had always been handled to one where resources – human and financial would be focused on the result rather than processes. The strategy also emphasized taking deliberate steps to stop the growth of new case backlog.
From 2-6 December 2013, senior members of my office attended the drafting of the Ministry’s Strategic Plan for 2014/2015. The Strategic Plan is the foundation of a Performance Management System (PMS) and sets clear strategic objectives and allows the Ministry to manage performance in order to achieve them. It forms a basis for Performance Agreements at individual/staff level thereby translating a strategy into desired action by the entire organization. In this period the Prosecution and the Magistracy attempted to define when a case can be identified as one that forms part of the backlog of cases. It was decided as a starting point that any case that has been on the Magistrates’ Court roll for longer than six  months would be considered to a backlog case. In the Regional Court, any case which has been on that court’s roll for longer than nine  months will be considered a backlog case. In the High Court, the prosecution will consider a case that has been on the High Court roll for longer than twelve  months, a backlog case.
During January 2014 I will meet with other role players, Deputy Prosecutors-General and all control prosecutors to inter alia develop a backlog reduction strategy and to ensure that deliberate steps are taken to prevent the growth of a new case backlog. We will also discuss and agree on an effective manner to establish exactly what factors contribute to the backlog and what measures should be put in place to prevent a reoccurrence of the present problem. All prosecutors will be expected to spend the maximum hours possible in court to ensure that the maximum possible cases are finalized during each court day. As we all know that the justice system consists a number of components which complement each other to ensure the effectiveness of the system, all these components needs to come up with strategies to address these problems relating to the backlog of cases.
As a young prosecutor, I was taught that one always gives preference to the oldest cases on one’s daily roll. Secondly the cases in which the accused are in custody should be dealt with. Today I see why that basic approach was necessary. The older a case gets, the more witnesses forget and some might even lose interest. I personally believe, and I have stated this before, that there is a progressive disillusionment of the public with the enforcement of the law and the system of justice as applied in the lower courts in Namibia. The biggest complaint of the public relates to the inordinate delays in finalizing criminal matters in the lower courts of law in Namibia. One of the main reasons is the huge backlog that clogs our court rolls. It is thus vital that we effectively deal with the backlog first to ensure that new cases eventually will be dealt with more speedily. I therefore call up the accounting officer of our Ministry to ensure that sufficient financial resources is allocated to the institutions that deal with the backlog of cases for the High Court of Namibia, Mr. Judge President, I appeal to you to consider the creation of continuation of criminal court and allocation of more judges to deal with criminal cases.
Further, Mr Judge President, that is why we in the Office of the Prosecutor-General believe, and I have said this before, is that our presiding officers and private legal practitioners have to accept at least some responsibility for the congested court rolls when they continue to prolong the finalization matters by not limiting trials to the real areas of dispute. We would once again urge them to consider making their contribution by ensuring that criminal trials are limited to the real areas of dispute. On our office's side, we will work tirelessly to ensure that the Bill on amendment of the Criminal Procedure Act is concluded this year to make the way of Plea Bargaining in certain criminal matters in Namibia.
Two additional matters that I wish to bring to the attention of this august meeting. The first is that our victim friendly courts here in the High Court and also in Oshakati and the one at the Regional Court in Mungunda Street is not operating properly due to technical problems. Our Regional Courts countrywide also need these facilities. It severely hampers the prosecution of cases involving young children and vulnerable witnesses. I will during this year approach different role players to assist in this regard. Secondly I also wish to point out that enormous problems are experienced with maintenance investigation. There is a compelling and urgent need for maintenance investigators to be appointed in terms of section 8 of the Maintenance Act 9 of 2003. This will ensure that those liable to pay maintenance will no longer be able to mislead the Court as to their ability to pay maintenance.
To conclude, I once again invite anyone who has a valid complaint against any prosecutor which involves improper conduct or anyone who does not use all available court time to finalize cases, and who are lax or indolent in the performance of their duties, to report such unacceptable conduct to me.
Mr. Judge President, I can assure all those present that I, in my capacity as the Prosecutor-General and all members of my office are committed to make the year 2014 a successful High Court legal year. But this year, the Office of the Prosecutor-General has decided that we will specifically do anything within our power to finalize as many as possible of the backlog in this Court, and the lower courts.
I thank you.
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