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HMCS COMGEN’S MEMO TO CJ AS 437 INMATES AWAIT TRIAL

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MBABANE – Justice delayed is justice denied!

This adage holds true for 437 inmates who have been anxiously waiting to have their day in court. This has seen the Commissioner General (COMGEN) of His Majesty’s Correctional Services LaMakhosini Dlamini issuing a memorandum to the Chief Justice (CJ), Bheki Maphalala, wherein she sought to enlighten his office on the number of trial-awaiting alleged offenders. In the memorandum, the commissioner general brought it to the attention of the CJ that the alleged offenders had been in custody without the commencement of their cases.

Annexed to the memorandum is a list of the alleged offenders, who, according to the COMGEN, have been in custody in the different Correctional Centres in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
In response, the CJ issued a memorandum for the attention of the acting director of public prosecutions (DPP) requesting the DPP to urgently attend to the committal of the cases in which the trial-awaiting inmates are implicated. Some of the 437 inmates who are detained in various Correctional centres have been in detention since 2019. The accused persons are alleged to have committed murder, attempted murder, offences under the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act 15/2018, rape, armed robbery and robbery.

Inmates

The Zakhele Remand Centre has 168 trial-awaiting inmates, which is the highest among the Correctional facilities. The most common crimes allegedly committed by the inmates at the Remand Centre is armed robbery and robbery, which accounts for 72 of the trial-awaiting inmates. Offences under the SODV Act are the second most committed allegedly by the yet to be tried inmates. Thirty-two of them allegedly committed murder and 22 attempted murder. Big Bend Correctional facility has the second highest number of inmates, 71, who are still to have their day in court. Inmates accused of committing offences under the SODV Act are 34, murder 28 and nine attempted murder accused persons. At this Correctional Services facility, there are no armed robbery and robbery trial-awaiting inmates.

At Nhlangano Correctional Services, there is a total of 50 inmates who are yet to be tried.  The most common offences allegedly committed by inmates housed at this facility are murder and attempted murder.  Out of the 50 inmates who are waiting to be tried, 29 have been charged with murder and 10 with attempted murder. Nine of the inmates are alleged to have committed offences under the SODV Act and one rape accused. Thokozani Matse, who was arrested by Lavumisa police, has spent almost nine years in custody as a trial-awaiting inmate. He is incarcerated at Nhlangano Correctional Services. In fact, among those listed in the inventory compiled by the Correctional Services, Matse has spent the most number of years without trial. He was arrested in 2015. The charge of murder, among Pigg’s Peak Correctional Services trial-awaiting inmates, is faced by seven of them. There are 38 inmates who have still not been tried at Pigg’s Peak Correctional Service. Rape is a common offence with 13 accused persons having been charged with it and four charged under the SODV Act.

Charged

Two have been charged under the Arms and Ammunition Act and malicious injury to property as well as armed robbery, housebreaking and theft. Four of the inmates are accused of committing six counts of armed robbery each. At Sidwashini Correctional Services in Mbabane, there are 35 inmates who are awaiting their day in court. The predominant charge among these inmates is murder.  At least 22 of these inmates are alleged to have committed murder; five are accused of attempted murder and three alleged offenders under the SODV Act and two rape offences. One inmate is facing a charge under the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2006. At Vulamasango School, there is a total of 34 inmates with pending cases. The SODV Act is the predominant charge among these inmates as 18 of them are charged under the Act. Five are faced with robbery charges and rape, four attempted murder and two are accused of murder.

Nineteen trial-awaiting inmates are kept at Malkerns Young Persons Centre (Juvenile) (Mdutshane) and nine of them face robbery charges. According to the inventory, four of the inmates allegedly committed an offence under the SODV Act, while three are accused of attempted murder. Matsapha Correctional Services has 16 trial-awaiting inmates. Out of the 16 inmates, 10 allegedly committed murder. Five are accused of robbery and one of housebreaking and theft. Five women are awaiting trial at Mawelawela Correctional centre and four of them have been charged with murder and the other one faces an attempted murder charge. There is one inmate who is detained at the Criminal Mental Health Centre and he was charged with attempted murder. It has been reliably gathered that the office of the DPP has committed some of the trial-awaiting prisoners to the High Court. Usually, once an accused has been committed to the High Court, he or she is called for a pre-trial conference in readiness for the commencement of his or her trial.

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