Friday, May 14, 2021

Industrial Court Judges fear for their safety as Police Commissioner is unable to deploy his officers

The Commissioner of Police has ruled out deploying his officers to provide security for judges of the Industrial Court.

He has told the Court that he does not have sufficient officers.

As a result the Court has resorted to the use of a private security firm, a development that has been met with mixed feeling by some members of the bench.

They say a private firm does not inspire enough trust as the training of personnel is not guaranteed.

Fears have also been expressed that private security officers can collude with criminals to undermine justice as well as leak secret documents that are in possession of judges.

Industrial Court President Judge Tebogo Maruping confirmed that a private security company has been identified to provide security guards who will act as court orderlies. He explained that, “The Registrar engaged the commissioner of police in February and March, 2014, but the Commissioner of Police considered our request but couldn’t help with police officers because they are still thin on the ground. In the event their situation improves they will assist accordingly.”

Maruping further stated that initially the courts had government security officers who were roped in to assist as court orderlies, but this arrangement was to some degree “untidy and it was stopped when the security officers were phased out by the government.” ┬á

“In the same context that is why we have engaged the Commissioner of Police and the security company in order to mitigate the situation on the ground,” he said. Justice Maruping acknowledged that their security in court rooms has been compromised as they deal with sensitive labour cases where at times the parties become emotional, especially when the ruling or decision of the Judge is not in their favour.

He revealed that there are some incidents where a judge was attacked.  In such instances we enlist the security officers to come to mitigate the situation and again this is not adequate, he said.

However some judges told this publication on condition of anonymity that they are being discriminated against. They said their colleagues at the High Court are provided with security by regular police officers.

They wondered whether such guards as provided by a private firm have any professional training and suspected that some might collude with criminals and put their lives in danger or compromise the security of the courts.
They further noted that it will be unfortunate if the Industrial court engages such people in their court rooms as the dignity of the courts would be compromised. They appealed to government to look into the matter closely and try and engage the police as court orderlies not private securities because courts are very sensitive areas, therefore they need credible and professional personnel.  

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