The National – Thursday, December 23, 2010
By ZACHERY PER
ONE of the biggest village courts in Eastern Highlands has called on the government to increase their monthly allowance or to place them on fortnightly pay.
Chairman of Asariufa Village Court Paulus Teteh made the call last week during a small gathering to mark the official closure of their operation for this year.
“The members of parliament (MPs) saw fit to increase their salaries by a hefty 52%, while we, the policy implementers who deal with the common people, continue to grind our hearts out surviving on pittance for the sake of communal peace,” he said.
Teteh said the village court magistrates were getting K98 while peace officers were getting K72 on a quarterly basis which equates to a miserly K16 and K12 per fortnight respectively.
He said the government hasd gone “insane and has forgotten its people”, adding that the billions of kina hardly trickled down to the people that really matters.
Asariufa Village Court clerk Jerry Omuvo said this year they settled a record 850 individual cases in 80 working days under trying and risky conditions.
He said there was a 32% increase from last year’s cases anticipating that the growing trend in cases settled might continue in the new year.
Omuvo said the tally did not include mediation cases heard outside the two allocated working days per week.
He said currently they were operating on generosity of the public who donate in cash and kind.
“If the government is very serious about Vision 2050, it should put all village court officials across the country on fortnightly payroll,” he said.
Meanwhile, a closer inspection of the village court registry, it revealed that of the 850 cases settled this year, marriage problem and related cases topped the list with 20%.
Divorce and debt cases stood second with 18% and were closely followed by adultery cases at 16%, disturbance of peace cases had 12% while physical assault had 9%.
Character defamation was 4%, child custody, attempted murder, rape, customary obligation, bride price and stealing 1%.