Physical access to courts still ‘distant’ for parts of Gusii

Retired CJ David Maraga and other guests admire a plaque during the opening of Manga Law Courts last December. PHOTO/Courtesy.

“Today, I presided over the official opening of the new Manga Law Courts in Nyamira County (Kenya),” tweeted former Chief Justice David Maraga.

That was on December 7th, 2020 and according to him, the station was another step in enhancing physical access to courts.

Sadly, the courts have not been put into use several months later.

According to Maraga’s tweet, the court was the 21st opened during his tenure at the helm of the judiciary.

A visit to the courts Tuesday showed that there was no activity taking place.

The gate to the facility was neither locked nor manned.

There was nobody in the compound.

There was dirt allover the compound.

The buildings remained locked.

It was projected that the court would help reduce workload in Kisii and Nyamira law courts.

There is a children’s remand home about a kilometre from the new court.

The first African court in Nyamira County, locally called ‘Ritongo’ is found within the children’s remand home.

It has not been renovated for any other use.

The legal services were at some stage moved from Manga to Nyamira Town.

Manga Law Courts in Nyamira County. The court was renovated and opened in December last year but is yet to benefit residents. PHOTO/Nyang’au Araka, The Scholar Media Africa.

The buildings meant to accommodate the new court belonged to the judiciary that renovated it.

“One of the buildings was occupied by the magistrate. His workers occupied the other one which is yet to be renovated,” a curious villager who refused to be named said.

The renovated facility now has a breastfeeding room for new mothers who come to the courts for various services either as convicts or witnesses.

It also has an office where lawyers meet their clients and a holding cell for prisoners and remandees.

“The judiciary is well aware of the strains that people go through in the process of seeking justice.

That is why we are bringing the court premises closer to the people by opening this court,” said Justice Maraga during the event.

He said that the courts would start operating in March this year.

But this has not happened because no magistrate has been assigned or reported to the station.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that when CJ Martha Koome took over, she noted that the country did not have sufficient number of judges to be stationed at every high court in the country.

As a result, the high court in Nyamira is being served by judges from Kisumu.

By last year, the high court, completed during Maraga’s time, had handled over 2,000 cases.


Retired CJ Maraga receives flowers from children when he arrived for the opening of Manga Law Courts in December last year. PHOTO/Courtesy.
Retired CJ Maraga addressing residents during the opening of the courts in December last year. PHOTO/Courtesy.
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Mr. Araka is the pioneer reporter and editor at The Scholar. His satirical segment, The Idler's Corner is very popular with our readers. He is also a published novelist and biographer.


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