The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has reacted to the petition by lawyers over the alleged unjust handling of public violence cases.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba through the JSC Secretary Mr Walter Chikwanha released a 10-page report which answered to the raised questions, but hammered home the fact that judicial decisions cannot be reversed through petitions.
In response to the issues raised by 119 lawyers on the complaints against the handling of trials for the recently arrested protesters, Chief Justice Malaba held that both the JSC and his office are not empowered to interfere with the judicial decision-making process of any court.
In , the complaints raised by the legal practitioners were that magistrates were dismissing bail applications by the arrested suspects without due cause, the courts were allegedly fast-tracking trials without affording accused persons adequate time to prepare their defences and that the courts were refusing lawyers opportunity to take instructions from their clients.
On accusations of predetermination or instructive dispensation of justice, the JSC maintains that judicial officers independently exercise their discretion as demanded by the constitution.
On the question of high proportion of suspects denied bail, CJ Malaba noted that crimes of public violence, theft and destruction of property are serious infractions of the law which dismantle the fabric of society and those arrested for committing such vile acts must be processed through the criminal justice system where the charges are proven they must be convicted and sentenced accordingly, likewise where the charges are not proven they must acquitted.
The chief justice concludes by reminding the lawyers that petitioning his office and the JSC amounts to interference with the discretion and independence of judicial officers.
He instructed the Acting Secretary of the JSC to constitute a tactical committee of stakeholders from the Acting Chief Magistrate, the Law Society, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services to address all issues and to ensure speedy trials with respect to the rights of accused persons.