The brickwork at Epworth Magistrate Court is now complete, and the roofing stage is about to begin in preparation for the new courthouse’s ceremonial inauguration early next year. Roofing materials have subsequently been purchased, and the construction crew is on schedule to finish the Epworth Court Construction by the end of the year.
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Mr. Walter Chikwana, secretary of the Judicial Service Commission, said in an interview that roofing would be completed this year, with finishing to begin in January next year.
“We are moving towards completion. The main court structure, as well as the ablution facilities, are now at roof level. The trusses and other roofing materials are now available. We expect to start working on the finishings like tiling, scheming, and painting in January 2022. If all goes well, the court will officially open its doors to the public by the end of the first quarter of 2022,” said Mr. Chikwana.
However, the holding cells remain at deck level, according to Mr. Chikwana, due to the requirement to adhere to Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services regulations.
Resident Courts in Suburban Areas
The Epworth Court Construction is in keeping with the government’s goal of establishing resident courts in suburban regions to bring the judicial system closer to the people.
This effort is in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1). As the government mobilizes resources to create infrastructure in suburban regions, circuit courts will sit in additional high-density suburbs.
As part of enhancing access to justice, magistrate courts will be established in high-density areas where most people live.
In the metropolitan provinces of Harare and Bulawayo, extra magistrates’ courts will be established in select high-density neighborhoods.
Magistrate courts will be created in Epworth, Glen Norah, and Budiriro in the Harare Metropolitan region and Nkulumane and Entumbane in Bulawayo. The rules were drafted following the Magistrates Court Act.
In the past, the government has created magistrate courts in places like Guruve, Murehwa, Mutawatawa, and Murambinda, among others, as part of a larger initiative to guarantee residents have easy access to justice.
As part of a deliberate attempt to decentralize the justice delivery system, high courts have also been established in Mutare and Masvingo.
The High Court has also been sitting on the circuit in areas where it has been unable to create permanent infrastructure as part of its efforts to ensure individuals have access to justice in their communities.
The establishment of courts near the people is in line with NDS1, a five-year economic strategy aimed at achieving an upper-middle-income economy by 2030. President Mnangagwa unveiled the medium-term strategic plan, which will be implemented between 2021 and 2025.