WINDHOEK - Minister of Justice Sakeus Shangala on Friday last week announced the new members of the Magistrates Commission that will serve for the next two years at the Office of the Judiciary in Windhoek. The newly appointed members of the commission are High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo who was re-elected to serve another term as chairman, Acting High Court Judge Johanna Salionga, Magistrate Rina Horn, Inge Koujo, Tuvoye Nuule and Martin Awarab.
Speaking at the same occasion Rolanda van Wyk, the permanent secretary of the judiciary, said the relationship between the justice ministry and the judiciary remains an important one as the minister acts as the line minister for the judiciary after the separation of the two entities on December 2015.
She said that the minister of justice remains seized with the responsibility to represent the judiciary in cabinet and parliament and also facilitates the provision of infrastructure such as courthouses and staff accommodation.
In addition to that, Van Wyk said, the minister is responsible for the appointment of the Magistrates Commission as well as magistrates in general.
Shangala thanked the previous commission for their service and said they played a vital role in administering justice to ensure that justice can be served and that justice is accessible, and urged the new commission to emulate them. He said that access to justice and the improvement of the delivery of justice is achieved through the excellent work done by the men and women who work at the magistrates’ courts across the breadth and width of Namibia in the 14 magisterial divisions and 43 districts. According to Shangala, the busiest magistrate’s court in Namibia is the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in Mungunda Street. “It is served by 10 principal magistrates, six senior magistrates and two magistrates and ideally it should be expanded to include another principal magistrate, six senior magistrates and another five magistrates,” he stated.
He also said that the types of cases heard in the magistrates’ courts need the presence of a social worker, which will be a priority in 2019/2020 at most if not all magistrates’ courts. He further said the next busiest magistrates’ division is Oshakati with its five districts served by only one divisional magistrate, three regional magistrates, five principal magistrates, one senior magistrate and two magistrates.
He added that during the 2019/2020 financial year it is intended to employ another regional magistrate, two principal magistrates and two magistrates to ease the case load on present staff members. Shangala further announced that Swakopmund and Keetmanshoop are both divisions with six districts under their jurisdiction and at present Swakopmund does not have a divisional magistrate while Keetmanshoop has a divisional magistrate, but one less principal magistrate than Swakopmund.
He also said that in the 2019/2020 financial year eight magistrates and three principal magistrates will be required across Namibia, including a new district principal magistrate to head the Okahao District Magistrate’s Court. Shangala further said that training remains a priority for the justice ministry and in this regard he works closely with Chief Justice Peter Shivute to ensure that the Justice Training Centre is realigned for its purpose and to ensure that it is available to magistrates, prosecutors, legal aid counsel, clerks and other staff members who service courts across the country.
He went on to say that retired magistrates can be recorded for video and audio lessons, which can be streamed for tailored courses for magistrates and other court staff. To this end, Shangala said, the next commission and the commissions to follow will be expected to make this a reality.
“They will also have to make use of courtroom technology to improve delivery of justice, reduce costs and help improve efficiency,” he said and continued: “The use of technology to ensure proper and speedy access to justice is a large priority for government and places yet another expectation on the already burdened shoulders of the judiciary and the magistracy in particular.”