The board members of the Botswana Institute of Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders (BIRRO) met Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo and complained about the delay of appeals brought before the High Court by convicted prisoners.
BIRRO is concerned about the number of convicted prisoners who end up completing their prison terms after being sentenced at the lower courts while waiting for their appeals to be heard at the High Court.
In the latest development, the Chief Justice admitted that there were delays of appeals brought by convicts, stating that this was due to the shortage of manpower.
In an interview, BIRRO Chairman, Mothei Sejakgomo, stated that they met the Chief Justice after it became evident that most of the convicted prisoners were complaining that their appeals were delaying to be heard before the courts.
Sejakgomo stated the delay was denying the convicted prisoners their rights for their appeals to be heard before the courts.
He said that, currently, they are two hundred appeals that have been waiting for more than four years to be heard at the High Court.
Sejakgomo was concerned that they are fifteen cases that have gone missing while the convicts were waiting for their cases to be brought before the courts.
Chief Justice Dibotelo confirmed in an interview that he met BIRRO board members who were complaining about the delay of appeal cases that were brought by convicts before the courts.
He said the delay of appeal has been an outstanding issue in the judiciary. Dibotelo indicated that the delay was necessitated by a shortage of manpower that is currently being experienced.
He further stated that he had long raised the issue at different forums adding that a shortage of court reporters was a hindrance to speeding up appeal cases. Dibotelo says currently court reporters are overwhelmed by the workload.
“Their job is not only about taking proceedings of the court. They also write judgments and put this whole information in computers. They are unable to cope with the disposal rate of cases after the introduction of judicial case management, which has resulted in speeding up of cases,” said Dibotelo.
However, he could not deny that they were some appeals records that went missing after convicts had made appeals although he indicated that such incidents are minimal.