A Solwezi magistrate was arrested recently for corruptly receiving K7000 (rebased). Henry Aongola aged 35, a Magistrate in Solwezi was arrested alongside other two individuals. He was charged with corrupt practices by public officer. It is alleged in April 2010 the magistrate corruptly received money from Joyce Nshindo as an inducement to pervert the course of justice in a criminal case concerning her son Justine Lukanga. Justine was facing a charge in the magistrate’s court.
We need more of such arrests. Corruption in the judiciary must be top priority. A clean judicial system can help deter corrupt practices. A dirty and corrupt judiciary encourages even greater corruption. Corruption in institutions which are tasked with combating corruption is likely to encourage corruption in other areas, since the possibility of detection and punishment is reduced. Any fight against corruption must therefore begin with eradicating corruption in the judiciary.
Criminal activity in the judiciary also sends the wrong signal to the rest of society. In line with the “broken windows theory”, dishonest magistrates / judges can induce honest Zambians to try to become even more corrupt. This may start a downward spiral of ever-increasing lawlessness. This is the case even when in actuality only about 5 percent of magistrates / judges may actually be corrupt.
If, on the other hand, the judiciary projected an image that most of them are honest, Zambians may become more confident that they live in a law abiding society. This environment provides them with the motivation to follow others and to play according to the legal rules. A positive vicious cycle could develop leading to less and less corruption. In short it is vital we prioritise tackling judicial corruption. It is even more vital that we project such efforts publicly.
Question: What should be done to address corruption in our courts?
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013