latest content

‘No judgment attains perfection’: Tanzania's top court, considering major wildlife crime

Two men, found guilty of being in possession of almost two tons of elephant tusks, have just lost a third challenge in their case. The matter was brought before Tanzania’s court of appeal for a second time, with counsel urging the court, on review, to change its earlier decision on sentence. But the judges weren’t persuaded. They called the review a disguised appeal against sentence. The accused claimed the original appeal decision showed a ‘manifest error’ resulting in a miscarriage of justice. Not so, said the judges.

Read judgment

This story, involving a second hearing at Tanzania’s court of appeal, goes back 10 years, and starts with an intelligence report that there was a consignment of ‘government trophies’ at the home of the three men originally accused. Police followed them and received further information that the men under surveillance were ‘on the verge of picking up’ government trophies.

Kenya’s highest court finds law on orders by foreign judges must be fixed with the ‘utmost urgency’

A judgment by Kenya’s apex court has found significant gaps in the law dealing with orders of foreign courts. These were discovered in the course of a judgment related to litigation being brought by seven local tea-pickers employed by a Scottish company operating in Kenya. In addition to its finding on the central issue involved, the supreme court ordered that its judgment be brought to the attention of the bodies responsible for preparing and making new legislation, with a ‘signal of the utmost urgency’ for action on developing the law to make it conform to the constitution.

Read judgment

A strategy developed by Kenyan tea-pickers, suing their Scottish employers for work-related injuries, has revealed a serious gap in the law in Kenya. Five judges of the supreme court identified the gap when they dealt with an appeal related to the legal action, and they have now ordered that their decision be sent to the country’s law-makers, ‘with a signal of the utmost urgency’ to develop the law so that the gap is filled.

Shocking murder trial in Zimbabwe puts spotlight on legal shortcomings

A recent decision of Zimbabwe’s high court, sentencing a woman to four life sentences for the murder of her four daughters, aged between one and nine, ended what has been perhaps the most sensational trial in many years. Media reports were full of gruesome details of how the mother had killed her children, murders apparently carried out in response to the increasingly bitter relationship between the parents.

Read judgment

One of Zimbabwe’s most sensational recent criminal trials has led to a woman being found guilty of murdering her four daughters, first poisoning them, then slitting their throats and setting the house on fire.

Conflicting principles surface in Kenyan case on judicial service commission appointments

Kenya’s highest court has delivered a decision that strongly defends the independence of the judiciary and, by extension, the independence of the mechanism by which judges are chosen, the Judicial Service Commission. It’s a watershed decision in that it will significantly change the way in which members of the JSC are appointed: the court said the president of the country had no function, not even a ceremonial one, in appointing and gazetting JSC members and that the role that the president had assumed in the past was a ‘fundamental contravention’ of the constitution.

Read judgment

The litigation in this case was prompted by action of the country’s then president, Uhuru Kenyatta. During his terms of office, he developed a track record of conflict – sometimes escalating to seriously intense levels – over the relative powers of the executive and the judiciary.

Zimbabwe’s high court urges parliamentary rethink of minimum sentence provisions, including question of ‘special circumstances’

A magistrate’s conviction of a young man accused of stealing a ‘chair plate’ belonging to the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) from a ‘scrapheap’ and sending him to jail for an effective term of 10 years, has been overturned by the high court in Harare. The court, however, also used the occasion to urge that when an accused faces a mandatory minimum sentence, as happened here, they should be entitled to state-funded legal representation.

Read judgment

First, the facts about the matter that came before high court judge, Joseph Chilimbe, who wrote the decision, and his colleague, Sylvia Chirawu-Mugomba.

Prison officials in Namibia unlawfully destroy wooden craft made by an inmate: what should the damages be?

A prison inmate has won his legal action against the Namibian authorities who confiscated and destroyed wooden craft he had with him in his cell. They have been ordered to pay damages to him – and their interpretation of the law, which formed the basis of their confiscation, has also been shown to have been completely wrong.

Read judgment

Alexander van Schalkwyk is a prisoner in Namibia and has spent time in several jails.

Earlier this year he appeared in the high court, Windhoek, in a different capacity, however: not as an accused, but as a claimant who wanted his rights. According to his claim, the prison authorities had destroyed some of his property and he wanted compensation.

Court moves to save vulnerable, endangered birds

It’s not often that courts have to deal with live Bateleur Eagles and Cape Vultures. But the high court in Windhoek, Namibia, has done just that. The birds weren’t actually produced in court, but the judge had to make a decision that would determine their fate. They needed to be moved from one animal sanctuary to another and it seemed that under a 1975 ordinance a permit was required from the relevant minister before the birds could be moved.

Read judgment

The application in this unusual case was brought by the N/A’AN KU SÊ Foundation, a Namibian non-profit sanctuary for wild animals and birds. It needs to transport and take guardianship of nine indigenous birds that it says are vulnerable and endangered.

Zambia’s apex court gives new meaning to contentious labour law provisions

Three judges of Zamibia’s highest court have at last brought some sense to a much-disputed section in the Industrial and Labour Relations Act. It reads, ‘The court shall dispose of the matter within a period of one year from the day on which the complaint or application is presented’, and it was introduced via an amendment to the legislation about 15 years ago. But what should happen where a matter drags on beyond the year stipulated in the law?

Read judgment

The problem with which Zambia’s lower courts – the high court and the appeal court – have been wrestling, is what should be done where a case involving a labour relations issue takes longer than a year to be finalised? The law clearly states that matters dealt with by the industrial relations court must be finalised within a year of filing, but it says nothing about what will happen if the matter takes longer than this to be completed.

Unconstitutional for Uganda’s tax authority to demand banks supply sensitive information on every single client

In March 2018, the Commissioner General of the Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA) sent notices to Uganda’s banks requiring them to supply key information about every single client. The banks in turn challenged whether this move was lawful, and the country’s constitutional court has now declared that it was not.

Read judgment

The list of petitioners in this case is long and startling: it was brought by 29 banks, Uganda’s development bank and the umbrella body for Uganda’s banks. Their petition dealt with several issues, but the central legal fight concerned a series of notices sent to the banks by the Commissioner General (CG) of the Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA).