Get your court paperwork in order, Namibian judges warn magistrates

What should the high court do when faced with trial records from the magistrate’s court that reflect the names of three different people in a case involving just one accused: one name at the typed start of the trial, a different name and age in the hand-written section of the record and a third name and age in the part of the trial dealing with mitigation? These and other problems have been taxing the high court in Namibia.

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Magistrates in Namibia have been rebuked by the high court over their failure to follow proper procedures for automatic review: for example, within a week of delivering sentence, magistrates are supposed to send copies of their matters to the high court for judges to certify the proceedings were in accordance with justice. Many do not, and delay in forwarding their records.

Magistrates' recusal protests "insubordination" - Namibian Supreme Court

TWO regional magistrates who felt they were being badly treated by the authorities over promotion and then recused themselves in protest, have now been ordered back to work by Namibia’s top court. The magistrates stood down from several part-heard cases to highlight what they considered unfair treatment. The two, who held office in the district magistrates’ courts, had been asked to hear regional court cases in an acting capacity. But they were also informed by the magistrates’ appointment body that they were not suitable for full-time appointment to the regional court.

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Recusal has become a political football in a number of African jurisdictions during the past months, but Namibia has produced a completely new scenario: magistrates who refuse to continue a case because of a workplace grievance, and recuse themselves in protest.

Raped child not sworn in properly: life sentence, conviction set aside

The child in this case claimed she had been raped by a relative of her father’s, starting from when she was nine years old. The case against the accused seemed strong, and the regional (senior) magistrate convicted him and sentenced him to life imprisonment. But when he appealed, the high court found the child had not been properly sworn in: conviction was set aside, along with his life sentence, and the man walked free.

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Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel reviewed the facts of the disturbing case before him in the high court, Pietermaritzburg.


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