magistrates court

Outcry over rape decisions by Namibian magistrate

Decisions by a magistrate based at the Oshakati Regional Court in Namibia have led to strong community protest and concern by anti-rape activists who oppose sentences the judicial officer has passed in rape cases. They are also against him being asked to sentence a rapist in a case where he (the magistrate) had originally acquitted the accused. Now, following the state’s successful appeal against that acquittal, the magistrate must sentence the man whom he was originally sure was not guilty.

Namibian magistrate Leopold Hangalo is at the centre of community concern over his decisions in three unrelated rape matters.

In the most recent, he convicted teacher Itana Sakaria of repeatedly raping a 13-year-old learner in 2014 and fathering a child with her. The magistrate then went on to give the teacher – apparently still working at the same school – a completely suspended sentence, finding that there were compelling grounds for Sakaria to escape the prescribed 15-year sentence for raping a minor.

Dangers of policing Malawi's 'green', off-season fishing ban

At the heart of this unusual decision by Malawi’s senior magistrates’ court lies a dramatic account of the dangers involved in trying to protect the fragile ecosystem of the country’s fish-rich Lake Chilwa. Apart from ecological concerns the court also speaks with some anxiety about the way police put their members in unnecessary danger by sending them to deal with well-armed, illegal fishing people while hopelessly outnumbered. They were provided with just a paddle boat – against the engine-powered boats used by the fishermen – and were not adequately armed.

Read judgment

The dangers facing poorly armed police trying to enforce off-season fishing for Malawi’s Lake Chilwa have been graphically illustrated in a new judgment delivered by the country’s senior magistrates’ court last week.

Shock judgment bars Zimbabwe human rights lawyer from crucial human rights case

The legal world was stunned this week by the news that Harare magistrate, N Nduna, had ruled that a lawyer appearing in a case before him was ‘disqualified’ from continuing to act in the matter. Whatever the case, this would have caused concern because of the drastic nature of the step. But this is not just any case. The accused person is an award-winning investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, who had been researching government corruption questions before his arrest. And his lead counsel is internationally-acclaimed human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.

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Any reader of this story is sure to head over to Facebook to check an essential element of the case. In the search block you should type in ‘Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law’. You’ll find that the page is actually called, ‘Lorie Conway’s Page about the film Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law’.

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