Chiefs and court officials in Mchinji have hailed the introduction of intermediaries who deal with minor cases and crimes, saying they are aiding justice delivery in the district.
The sentiments emerged at a recent meeting at Kholoni Primary School in Traditional Authority Mlonyeni where the Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (Pasi) was donating bicycles to intermediaries.
Magistrate Steven Chifomboti said some cases such as theft of green maize only drain government resources when dealt with in the formal court system.
He said paralegals are instrumental in dealing with such minor cases.
“Just [recently], I had people who had stolen green maize. They were in police custody and police could not dismiss the case because of the law. The time that villagers spend travelling to and from police and courts, the stationery we use, it is just costly. This case can take just two hours if handled by a paralegal,” said the magistrate.
Senior Group Village Head Menyani echoed Chifomboti’s sentiments, saying the intermediaries have eased the workload chiefs had to deal with in their villages.
Pasi national coordinator Clifford Msiska said paralegals are preferred in communities because, unlike chiefs, they do not charge fees.
“The pushbikes we are donating here are to enable the paralegals reach even remote villages and thus widening the delivery and access of primary justice,” said Msiska.
Pasi trained 140 people as paralegals in Mchinji. The initiative is sponsored by the European Union (EU) under the Democratic Governance Programme.