Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Customary court President appeals for more branches

The president of customary court of appeal, Kgosi Mothibe Lenchwe, has appealed to the government to fast-track establishment of the third customary court of appeal which he said is now long overdue.  

The plea comes after both customary courts of appeal in the South and North said they are now unable to cope with the growing number of appeal cases they preside over.

“I plead with the government to fast track the establishment of another third customary court of appeal which is now long overdue,” Kgosi Mothibe told this publication.

“Although I wouldn’t be in a good position to suggest where it should be located, I believe we need this today,” said Mothibe.

He explained that most of the people are now utilising customary courts in large numbers which is a good thing because they are less expensive. These courts primarily focus on facts as compared to magistrate courts that focus on law, he explained.

“I guess everybody is aware that our courts prohibit representation of attorneys,” he said. ┬á┬á

Mothibe said that his court is experiencing a large number of cases of inheritance and this has become a concern. He said nowadays most families are fighting for inheritance and such cases eventually end in customary courts.

He said in some instances, a child would fail to contribute to family, but when the parents pass on, that particular child who had failed to make contributions is the one who expects to get the equal share with others, which is totally unfair.  

He revealed that Molepolole, Kanye and Mochudi are hot spots where inheritance disputes abound.
Some other villages, he added, still have good customary structures that address such matters and these cases hardly reach the courts.

Therefore, he said, these villages should be commended for the good work they are doing in encouraging stable and peaceful families.

However, Moithibe expressed concern about the serious shortage of translators at his court which also affects the slow delivery of justice to the public, as justice delayed is justice denied.
His court has about two translators who have to translate cases from Setswana to English before they go to the high court and that takes time, he said.

Masego Taolo, a sitting member of the customary court of appeal in Francistown, also shared the same sentiments with Mothibe.

“Our workload has increased drastically, which calls for the need for a third branch,” he said, adding that they are exposed to long travel by road, slowing down the disposal of cases.

Taolo insisted that the third branch should be located in the central district owing to the vastness of the area.

“It is true that we should have another customary court of appeal or branch,” said Tumelo Seboko, the acting director of tribal department.

He said such a recommendation has long been proposed but unfortunately it has not yet been implemented since it was tabled some years back.

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