New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Judges: Magistrates should keep their cool in court

Judges: Magistrates should keep their cool in court

2023-11-23  Roland Routh

Judges: Magistrates should keep their cool in court

Two judges of the Windhoek High Court have castigated sitting magistrates who lose their cool while courts are in session. 

Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute in concurrence with Judge Herman January said this during a review of a case where a magistrate in Walvis Bay sentenced an accused to three months in jail for contempt of court.

The accused, Nathan de Bruyne, was arraigned on a charge of robbery and indicated to the court that he would plead not guilty to the charge when asked. 

He told the court that the phone he was accused of robbing belonged to him and he merely repossessed it. 

However, when the matter was postponed, and he was remanded in custody pending a formal bail application, De Bruyne became unruly and used extremely vulgar language towards the magistrate. 

Despite several warnings by the magistrate to desist from such behaviour, he continued swearing and shouting, interrupting court proceedings. Exasperated, the magistrate then sentenced him to three months in jail for contempt without holding a hearing or explaining his rights to mitigation or allowing him to mitigate. 

“It is undoubtedly clear that what the accused said towards the magistrate was contemptuous and uncalled for,” the judge stated.

 The court went on to say: “Unfortunately, it appears that the magistrate let her emotions get the better of her and overlooked to pronounce the accused guilty. Instead, she proceeded to sentence him to three months imprisonment without explaining to him his right to mitigation or affording him a chance to mitigate before sentencing”. 

Judge Shivute, who wrote the judgment, further said that judicial officers should endeavour to rise above emotions and maintain their cool-headedness throughout the trial, even amidst the most extreme provocation. She continued to say that the glaring omissions by the magistrate amount to serious irregularities that cannot be overlooked and consequently the proceedings in this matter cannot be said to be in accordance with justice.

 As such, the judge said, the sentence is set aside as there was no conviction in the first place.


2023-11-23  Roland Routh

Share on social media