Illegal guns wreak havoc

Illegal guns wreak havoc

…Magistrates shocked by murder cases…

MASERU –THE Magistrates Court is gravely worried about the high number of murder cases in its books, the court’s information officer,
‘Mampota Phakoe, said on Monday. In an interview with thepost, Phakoe said the court has registered 156 murder cases this year alone.
She said most murders are being committed by people who are in unlawful possession of firearms.
“Unlawful firearms are many and are being used by criminals,” she said.

About 48 cases were registered between August and October this year, adding to dozens other cases pending at the court, said Phakoe. During the same period, 27 cases of unlawful possession of firearms were also registered. “This is worrisome,” she said. “Instead of seeing the murder cases decrease, they are increasing.”
Phakoe said there is a perception that the court is ineffective in dealing with murder cases. “People have (a belief) that the court does not do anything,” she said, clarifying the role that the Magistrates Court play in dealing with murder cases.

“We do not deal with murder cases as the Magistrate Court but the High Court does. We serve as a remanding court,” Phakoe said.
‘‘After the Magistrates Court plays its role as a remanding court in murder cases, the rest of the processes fall on the upper courts’’, she said.
For example, it’s the responsibility of the High Court to decide on bail in murder cases.

“We no longer get updated or informed about the status of the case. So when community members see a person granted bail going up and down, they think of revenge and commit yet another crime,” she said.
Some cases are dismissed due to lack of evidence or prosecution, she said, adding that the courts dismissed 17 cases this year.
She said some of the cases that were dismissed were from 2016 to 2018 and had stalled due to lack of evidence or lack of prosecution.

However, she was quick to mention that the dismissed cases could be reinstated if evidence becomes available.
“When the police investigating the case come to court with enough evidence, it is then that such cases will be reopened,” Phakoe said.
She said plans are underway to go out to communities to sensitise people on how the court system operates, although budgetary constraints are hampering progress of such awareness campaigns.

Itumeleng Khoete

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