Mutare, (Pungwe News-New Ziana) – The President of the Chief’s Council of Zimbabwe, Chief Fortune Charumbira has warned people against disrespecting judgments by traditional courts, saying this could land them in jail.
He said this at a recent seminar in Mutare for headmen from Manicaland Province on the laws and procedures of local courts.
The meeting, attended by 66 headmen drawn from seven districts, was convened by the Chief`s Council with support from Legal Resources Foundation.
“People who think that these local courts are not part of the formal justice system need to go back and consult further because courts are courts,” Chief Charumbira said.
“As long as the courts are provided for in the Laws and the Constitution, they should be recognized in their jurisdictions. There are people who say that they do not attend local courts. Some even refuse to attend when summoned. That’s wrong and in the end you get yourself in trouble with the law,” he added.
Traditional leaders expressed concern over defiance by some offenders to comply with their verdicts. They said their authority was being openly challenged in their areas of jurisdiction, with some people opting for the formal judicial system.
But Charumbira said such behaviour could invite the wrath of the law.
“Such behavior where the accused persons ignore summons from traditional courts attracts a jail sentence,” he said, adding that traditional leaders were empowered by the Constitution to preside over selected matters.
He said the seminar was intended to equip chiefs with legal knowledge and skills after it had been noted that some of them were straying in their judgments.
“We have convened a national training program to make sure that our headmen or presiding officers at local court level understand the laws applicable to their courts. This is because every court has its jurisdiction or limits of powers,” he said.
“We have had cases where some traditional leaders exceed their jurisdictions, so we are sensitizing them on issues of sentencing guidelines for offenders. There has been a lot of disparities and you find some outrageous sentences imposed,” said Chief Charumbira.
Pungwe News-New Ziana