Talk of fast justice!
It is always awful to be the victim of a crime. And it is always wonderful when that same crime is solved. The criminal behind bars! Justice done! However, last year, the Prison Care and Counselling Association alleged that over 4,000 suspects have lingered in Zambian jails without trial for up to 10 years. Although the exact figure is being disputed, there is no doubt that the judicial wheels are turning agonisingly slowly in way too many cases. In stark contrast is this week’s report of Commerce Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe’s stolen designer handbag. The two thieves in this case allegedly went to trial the day after committing the crime! Their less fortunate colleagues, who have been behind bars for up to 10 years, must be distraught with despair. Remember that many of them are not even guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. No one knows, as their trials are yet to take off. Yet they have been rotting behind bars for years. One could wish that more criminals would target VIPs, as this seems the sure way to ensure a speedy trial. Justice for all remains an elusive concept in Zambia.
CORRECTION: Please note that the timing in this note is incorrect. Mwanakatwe lost her handbag in November 2016, and the thieves appeared in court in January 2017. This is still a very fast turnaround for a trial in Zambia, but not a day-to-day miracle, as suggested in the note.
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly