High Court

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.


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