The Malindi Maximum Prison has received equipment that will facilitate the virtual hearing of court cases involving remand prisoners at the correctional facility.
The equipment is expected to greatly reduce congestion at the Malindi law courts in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that has necessitated the limitation of the number of litigants seeking judicial services.
Remand prisoners at the facility will be able to virtually attend court sessions, making it unnecessary to transport to and from the various courts in the North Coast region, thus saving time and the risk of the accused persons escaping from lawful custody along the way.
Transcom Services Company, through Malindi Progressive Welfare Association (MPWA) Chairperson Cate Mwikali, handed over the equipment to Malindi Resident Judge Reuben Nyakundi at a brief ceremony held at the Malindi Law Courts Thursday.
The ceremony was witnessed by the Kilifi County Probation Officer, Mr. Conrad Masinde, the Deputy Officer in Charge of the maximum prison, Mr. Peter Mbuthia, MPWA members Philip Chai and Shabir Kassamjee and a member of the Malindi Court Users Committee, Mr. Tukero ole Kina.
Speaking after receiving the equipment, Mr. Justice Nyakundi, lauded the company for the donation, which he said had come at a time when the Judiciary was migrating to operate digitally, adding that this would help speed up the dispensation of justice.
“We have been facing immense challenges since the onset of Covid-19 because of lack of facilities, but with this donation, we believe our work will become easier,” he said.
The Judiciary in Malindi launched virtual hearing of cases last year following the pandemic, but it has largely been able to handle civil cases since most lawyers representing litigants are able to do so through modern technology.
However, it has been a challenge to handle criminal cases due to limited facilities as the cases require the physical presence of accused persons, most of whom are in either in police custody or in remand prisons.
Mr. Masinde, who is also the secretary to the Kilifi County Court Users Committee (CUC), said the equipment would help a number of courts in the North Coast region since the maximum prison was serving the Malindi and Garsen law courts.
“Virtual hearing of cases came with challenges in terms of Information Communication Technology (ICT) because the Malindi GK prison serves the high courts and lower courts in Malindi and Garsen,” he said.
On his part, Mr. Mbuthia said the donation would help address case backlog, which he said was being experienced in the North Coast region due to limited facilities since the prison receives inmates from courts in Kilifi, Lamu and Tana River counties as it is the only Covid-19 quarantine centre in the region.
By Emmanuel Masha