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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Corruption in Court, 2nd Edition

A Court Clerk at the Kalulushi Subordinate Court was recently arrested by the ACC for suspected corrupt practices involving K 1000. Coillard Lomba (37 years) is charged with corrupt practices by public officer contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act (2012).

It is alleged that Lomba last month corruptly solicited for and actually received cash gratification from a Able Chibwe as an inducement or reward for him to facilitate for a Stay of Execution in a court case involving Able Chibwe and Victoria Kapelekeshiku.

Earlier this year a Solwezi magistrate was arrested recently for corruptly receiving K7000. He was also charged with corrupt practices by public officer.The magistrate allegedly 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.

Our court system is riddled with corruption at every tier. 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 virtuous 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? Please share your thoughts and comments below. 

Chola Mukanga | Economist
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

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