Sunday April 20 2014

Magistrate rides boda-boda for lack of vehicle

An illustration of Mr Mutazindwa riding on a boda boda

An illustration of Mr Mutazindwa riding on a boda boda to Nakapiripirit. illustration by alex kwizera 

Lack of means of transport has forced a chief magistrate in Karamoja to ride on boda-boda to court in order to hear cases.

The chief magistrate for Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Amudat districts, Mr Katorogo Mutazindwa, rides on a boda boda (hired bike) to preside over cases.
On Monday, he lost several documents to rain when he was riding on a boda boda from Nakapiripirit to Moroto, a 98km distance amid a downpour.

The vehicle the Judiciary allocated to Moroto Chief Magistrate’s Court two years ago was taken to Kampala for repair last year but it has never been returned.

The Grade One magistrates for Nakapiripirit and Moroto are also facing similar challenges of lack of means of transport. On several occasions, they are seen walking to courts.
Mr Katorogo confirmed losing court files to the rain while riding on a boda-boda on Monday but declined to reveal further details about them.

“I am here to deliver justice to the people with or without a car. But I know anytime from now, I will get a car,” he said.

Housing issues
Meanwhile, the magistrates are also facing a challenge of accommodation with the Moroto Grade One magistrate staying in a lodge.

In February this year, the acting Deputy Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma, opened new houses for Judiciary staff in Moroto but they have remained locked to date.

Efforts to get a comment from Mr Erias Kisawuzi, the judiciary spokesperson, were futile as his known cell phone was not available.


The Judiciary faces several challenges in Uganda.
It is ill-staffed, stressed and sluggish to effectively enforce the rule of law. For instance, Jinja High Court circuit alone is chocking on 800 backlogs of criminal cases and need 10 years for the cases to be cleared up.

Jinja resident judge Godfrey Namundi has only 20 magistrates to serve an average 5,000,000 court users in Busoga sub-region, Mukono, Buikwe, and Kayunga districts. The situation is similar across the country.

Last week, the head of the Judicial Service Commission, Mr James Ogoola, said the Judiciary is a disabled institution which has struggled along without a leader for more than a year.

Mr Ogoola, himself a retired principal judge, told MPs that the ‘un acceptable’ situation has reached a level where the third arm of government is unable to effectively function.

The Judiciary has also been tainted with reports of widespread corruption among the staff. A thing that was blamed on the poor remuneration.

Last year, President Museveni agreed to proposals to give judges a substantial pay raise effective July 2013. Monthly pay for the Chief Justice would be increased from the current Shs5.8 million to Shs40 million and the deputy would earn Shs34.9 million up from Shs5.3 million.