In a statement issued on his behalf, Chief Justice Luke Malaba justified fast track trials and said they are necessary under the circumstances.
He said Zimbabwe is not the first country to conduct fast track trials. Malaba added that suspects are entitled to a speedy trial. He dismissed claims that magistrates were under instruction on how to deal with cases involving shutdown protesters. Part of Chief Justice Malaba’s statement reads:
The Chief Justice reminds all and sundry that all judicial officers are required by Section 164(1) of the Constitution to dispense justice expeditiously. In doing so, all due process must be followed and rights of accused persons respected. The Zimbabwean courts are not, by undertaking expeditious trials, reinventing the wheel. Such trials are common phenomenon across the world in cases involving violence. For instance, in England after the 2011 riots, more than 3 000 people were arrested with 1 500 being arraigned before the courts. Their trials were fast-tracked. Courts were in session 24 hours until the cases were completed. Even juveniles caught up in the riots underwent trial. The Chief Justice maintains his position that where suspects are arrested and brought to court, they are entitled to a speedy trial. Fast-track trials must, in fact, be the norm, and not a curious exception.