—–Legal and Justice Reforms Commission chairperson, Fredrick Chomba, has urged local courts to play a role in reporting criminal cases to relevant authorities.
Justice Chomba was prompted to give guidance when a petitioner from Kalomo submitted that she was still awaiting payment of K6,000 damages in a case where her 15-year-old daughter was impregnated in 2009.
Lydia Mweetwa, 45, of Mawaya compound in Kalomo told the Commission which held a public hearing in Choma today that she took the matter to the local courts because she wanted compensation for her daughter’s pregnancy.
Mrs Mweetwa explained that the local courts awarded her the damages and the accused man was directed to pay K6000.00 in K300 monthly instalments and that to date the defendant had not settled the payments.
However, Justice Chomba said local courts should not entertain such cases because they were serious criminal offences amounting to defilement of a girl under the age of 16 years.
"The local courts should take such matters seriously and liaise with relevant arms of government which can take appropriate action against the offenders," said Justice Chomba.
Earlier, Commission vice chairperson, Abraham Mwansa, who is also Solicitor General, advised the petitioner to immediately report the accused to police for defilement because the girl was 15 years old when he impregnated her.
"Don’t rush to the local court for compensation in such matters but instead report criminal offences to the police," advised Mr Mwansa.
And a petitioner, Frank Mudenda, complained that people were building houses in active cemetery of Choma without any action being taken by the District Council.
This prompted Commissioner Patrick Chisanga to seek permission from the chairperson for members to verify the report as the action amounted to criminal trespass.
The chairperson appointed a four-member sub-committee led by Commissioner Chisanga to go to the cemetery to verify the report in the company of the Council Director of Planning, Betty Liswaniso, and a Police officer.
And briefing members of the Commission this evening after touring the cemetery, Commissioner Chisanga reported the complaint by the petitioner was true and that the construction of houses in the cemetery was going-on.
The Commission members recommended that immediate action should be taken through a report to the Council and the Ministry of Local Government and Housing following the findings of the team.
The Commission will continue receiving submissions from petitioners at the Choma Council Chambers tomorrow before proceeding to Namwala on Friday.