Auditor general Junias Kandjeke has poked holes in the country’s justice system, saying it has failed to hold criminals accountable for crimes committed due to the failure of finalising cases, which consequently results in them being withdrawn.
It is his stance that criminals are allowed to play with the system to ensure that cases do not proceed until witnesses and complainants lose interest in the matter.
He said despite government spending a lot of money on the justice system, people have lost their trust in it.
Kandjeke’s sentiments are contained in the recently released audit report into the Office of the Judiciary, which focuses on the period between 2014 and 2018.
The report focuses on the finalisation of criminal cases at magistrate’s courts.
It stated that 8 172 cases were finalised, with 29 608 pending during the period assessed.
Kandjeke said the systems failure is attributed to various factors such as prolonged periods for the prosecutor general to make decisions in cases, lack of preparation for court proceedings, backlog of criminal cases, poor court roll management and inexperienced prosecutors, while there are too many cases assigned to judicial officers.
He added that the quality of investigations is lacking as some Namibian Police investigators lack knowledge, training, experience and mostly depend on prosecutors who also at times lack experience.
The finalisation of cases is furthermore affected by the delay in obtaining laboratory results from the Namibian Police Forensic Science Institute (NPFSI) due to factors such as the procurement system, lack of manpower and expertise, and the quality of exhibits submitted by the police.
“The NPFSI does not have any DNA database due to the lack of legislation that governs the collection of human and other biological tissue for the purpose of data-basing for application in criminal matters,” he added.
He said there is also a lack of coordination between investigators and prosecutors as dockets arrive late or not at all, which consequently leads to postponements.
Kandjeke reasoned that for the justice system to be efficient, there is a need for the police and other relevant stakeholders to work together to reduce crime in Namibia. Police officers should be encouraged to study law or police-related fields, while investigators should receive proper training before being assigned to cases.
On the magistracy, Kandjeke recommended that magistrates and prosecutors work together to put up strict measures to control and properly manage the court roll in order to reduce backlogs. Magistrates should likewise ensure that someone stands in for them when they are not available.
They should also work hand in hand with other stakeholders to enforce stiffer fines to discourage offenders from manipulating the system with delaying tactics.
Kandjeke also recommended that the prosecutor general puts up measures to speed up the process of taking decisions on cases to ensure timely adjudication. Control prosecutors should guide newly appointed prosecutors, and prosecutors and investigators should harness good relationships.