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Friday, 22 March 2013

Corruption in Court

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


  1. Greetings Cho.

    My take, it has always been my position that we raise the bar on the qualification of all people that seat at the judgement head - they all need to be ZIALE graduates who should have done a minimum of 5 yrs active law practice.

    Qualification resolved we need to ensure we induce a sense of pride in this profession as we see with other countries, ensure they are comfortable with a decent remuneration. Granted there will be the proverbial 'rotten nuts' as we have witnessed even with the very privileged, but some of these magistrates I don't flinch to learn of their corrupt ways as their living standards are extremely deplorable their corruption doesn't end at monetary misdeeds but in their rulings as well - God forbid your house help brings you before a subordinate court, your dress and mannerisms already clearly irks the ruler.

    Lowly paid law enforcers will always keep our justice system malnourished, consider the case of a Legal Aid lawyer versus private practice support staff - I would rather represent myself with a two day crush course.


    1. Mpashane,

      Yes, training and resourcing is needed. But I suppose it all begins at the top. There's a crisis in the judiciary at present with the Acting Chief Justice clearly not responding to public reason by failing to resign.

      For reforms to be undertaken it will require a new Chief Justice.


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