Mzuzu courts short of judges, magistrates


Wheels of justice have come to a halt in the Northern Region due to the shortage of judges and magistrates, The Daily Times can reveal.

The High Court in Mzuzu has one judge, Dorothy De Gabrielle, residing in the city while the other judge, Justice Thomas Ligowe, is yet to relocate, months after his promotion and subsequent deployment.

This has raised fears among court users that the Mzuzu Registry, which is the regional hub of the Judiciary in the Northern Region, is slowly rolling into a crisis due to a backlog of cases.


The High Court was in a similar predicament not long ago when Dingiswayo Madise was the only resident High Court judge, with visiting judge John Chirwa helping out.

Further to that, the Mzuzu Registry, which covers six districts in the Northern Region, has two magistrates after losing about five of them to transfers and resignations.

The Daily Times has it on authority that no case will be heard at the High Court for the whole month of December due to the shortage of judges and magistrates.


Evans Kayira of Court Users Association, in an interview on Monday, wondered why decision-makers are neglecting the region, thus denying thousands of Malawians access to justice.

“There is no progress on cases [and] people are crying over delayed justice. There is no way a single judge can serve this whole region sufficiently,” Kayira said.

Commenting on the matter, lawyer Christon Ghambi said the situation is a violation of human rights and that it is affecting people economically and socially.

He said that many people are languishing behind bars of prisons because cases cannot be tried and determined on time.

“We used to have 11 magistrates but we only have two. In fact, [we have] one because the other one is visiting. People have been moved and promoted but no replacements have been made,” Ghambi said.

Another lawyer, George Kadzipatike, wondered why the Judiciary is not recruiting more magistrates despite advertising for vacancies few months ago.

But Malawi Law Society President, Khumbo Soko, said procedures were being followed to engage the authorities on the matter.

Meanwhile, Registrar of the High Court, Agness Patemba, has downplayed fears that there would be a backlog of cases at the Mzuzu Registry.

She said Ligowe reported for duties a few months ago but is yet to secure a house for him to become a resident of Mzuzu.

“Judge Ligowe has been sitting in Mzuzu and the High Court is operating normally. We have also transferred a magistrate to Mzuzu who is also looking for a house. By January, I am sure he will be there,” Patemba said.

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