Scores of criminals are able to dodge the long arm of the law because the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), the police and other organs of the justice system are under resourced ÔÇô DPP revealed this week.
The DPP disclosed that Botswana Police Service is not equipped with the necessary skills and equipment to effectively gather and secure evidence during investigations. “In order for justice to be carried out effectively every organ of the justice system has to be adequately resourced,” Deputy Director of DPP Kabo Leinaeng told Sunday Standard.
With criminal cases languishing for years, a plague of delays in the criminal justice system is undermining one of the central ideas of the justice system, the promise of a speedy trial.
Leinaeng admitted that internal processes within his department also contribute to delays. He added that they are working hard to change laws that derail their efforts to prosecute within a reasonable amount of time.
With police officers and government prosecutors complain of staffing and resource shortages, Botswana’s system offers a stark picture of what happens when an overwhelmed justice system cannot keep pace: old cases pile, prosecutions fail at an alarming rate, lives stall while waiting for court hearings and trust in the system and its ability to protect citizens evaporate.
┬áLeinaeng explained that with regard to murder cases forensic examinations by nature tend to take time. “We have only four pathologists across the country dealing with all cases of suspected foul play.” He said however their turnaround time for murder cases has significantly reduced to two years form four. Leinaeng said they have also changed time of committal for corruption cases to speed up the process.
Speaking at a press briefing hosted by the Attorney Generals Chambers recently, Attorney General Dr Athalia Molokomme said solving cases is not as easy as the public may think.
“There are so many technicalities that make it difficult to prosecute.” ┬áMolokomme said they are doing their best to reduce the turn-around time. She said despite media reports about the DPP’s poor record on ‘high profile’ cases the department’s success rate in all cases is well above ninety percent as evidenced by the ninety-four percent they scored in 2012.