PROSECUTOR General Martha Imalwa says that prosecutors in the country are overworked and underpaid with no administrative staff to ease their workload, which contributes to the slow finalisation of court cases.
This plunges the prosecutors into having to work after hours to ease the administrative burden placed upon them by default,” Imalwa pointed out. Last week, President Hage Geingob expressed disappointment in the slow finalisation of cases during the opening of the Legal Year, emphasizing that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. Imalwa revealed that internal investigations conducted by her office found that a number of prosecutors at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court have on various occasions lied to Magistrates about waiting for the Office of the Prosecutor General to take a decision to prosecute or not on files that have been submitted.
“The Office of the Prosecutor General identified prosecutors in Windhoek having provided misleading information to court in respect of the readiness of the Prosecutor General … knowing in fact that the docket was not submitted to the Prosecutor General. Such actions by the prosecutors lead to either striking of such cases pending PG’s decision and the withdrawal thereof,” she said. Without revealing the number of prosecutors or their names, Imalwa stated that these delinquent prosecutors were identified and that the issue continues to be handled internally.
“Actions are taken and the outcome thereof is not for public consumption at this juncture. Therefore, generalising the issue will defeat the reality as the majority of Prosecutors are honest and ethical as required by the demands of the noble legal profession,” Imalwa stressed. She added that the other factors that humstrung the efficient dispensing of the law are the backlog of cases, inhibitive police investigations and the recurrent shortage of judicial officers, prosecutors and administrative support personnel.
“I must state without fear, favour and prejudice that the majority of prosecutors are people of integrity, working hard and tirelessly to ensure that the wheels of justice turn albeit the challenges that the Office of the Prosecutor General face. As the Head of the Prosecution Authority of Namibia, I must state that I am proud of my prosecutors, the dedication, the diligence, the hard work despite the lack of resources and the lack of tools of trade that hamper performance,” Imalwa stated. She also maintained that the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the backlog of cases on the court rolls. National lockdowns, Imalwa stated, were also a challenge although her office was still operational.
“The courts were regarded as a critical service provider and remained open to the public albeit with limited services. This was a challenging time for the Office of the Prosecutor General, as we are the conduit of the Criminal Justice System and thus we had to ensure that justice continued to be administered. The aforesaid manifested in the Office of the Prosecutor General as well as the Magistracy and administrative support succumbing to the battle against COVID-19.” These setbacks had a significant impact on the effective and efficient prosecution of crime as courts locked down from time to time to contain the spread of Covid-19 among staff members, said the Prosecutor General. Prosecutors are required to work face to face with the public, who are witnesses and who by themselves are also exposed to Covid-19