Q&A – 22 June 2015

Suing judge for case delay

I sued one businessman in the High Court of Tanzania for recovery of money. The presiding judge has been taking things softly while the case involves my business capital. She has been adjourning the case several times and in some instances does not show up in court and the case is adjourned before the Registrar. I am stuck since my core capital is at stake and business threatened. Can I sue this judge for the manner she is conducting my case? What are the liabilities for judges? I want to bring work discipline in the judiciary.
TY , Dar

Judges are protected for all actions they do in the performance of their duties as judges. However, this immunity does not extend to other affairs they do in their individual capacities. For instance liability for personal debts, causing injury to an individual by their own negligent actions just to mention a few.

In your case we do not see how you can successfully sue the judge presiding over your case. The only thing you can do if at all you feel the judge is unfairly treating your case is to pray for her disqualification from conduct in the case. There must be convincing reasons to pray as such. You can also formally lodge a complaint to the judge in charge over the conduct of the judge presiding over your case. Furthermore, if you are still not satisfied, you can formally lodge a complaint to the Judicial Service Commission that is established under the Judicial Administration Act of 2011.

All said above, you must further understand that delay of cases is not contributed by one fact alone. There are a number of reasons including non-appearance of parties or their advocates, backlog of cases, heavy load on judges delays in investigation, few number of judges and lawyers seeking adjournments just to mention a few.

Unless there are compelling reasons for us to advise otherwise, we feel you need further guidance of a legal practitioner to tell you about the litigation system and Court systems in Tanzania so that you may avoid future frustrations.

Arrested for wearing t-shirt with offensive words

I am writing with sorrow after being arrested for wearing a t-shirt alleged to have insults. As I was walking in the city center one of the police officer arrested me for wearing a t-shirt that purportedly contains abusive language. Unfortunately the alleged printed offensive words are not in Swahili rather in Chinese which language I do not know. I only bought this second hand cloth from a street vendor and thought it would suit me. The police officer who arrested me maintains that he went for training in China thus knows to read and speak in Mandarin. I have been reporting to the police station every Monday for the past year. Is this fair?
TR, Dar

As you have pointed out, we understand that the Penal Code provides that any person who uses obscene, abusive or insulting language to any other person in such a manner as is likely to cause a breach of the peace or brawls or, in any other manner, creates a disturbance in such a manner as is likely to cause a breach of the peace, is guilty of committing an offence.
In your case you have not informed us what exactly the words in the t-shirt mean and or what the police officer in his interpretation thought the words meant. It is difficult to adjudge if what the police officer insinuates falls within the ambit of the aforesaid provision.

From the limited facts you have given us, we believe that you may have a good defence in the situation as you are completely unaware of the meaning of the words. Otherwise, we advise you to seek assistance of a lawyer. To avoid inconvenience, we recommend next time you might want to cross check with friends and family when you are unaware of words that appear on your t shirt.

PCCB searching without warrant

I have a received a letter signed by the head of the anti-corruption bureau authorizing his officers to search my ware house on grounds that that I am storing corruptly and illicitly acquired properties. Is this lawful? Are they not required to have a search warrant from a Court of law? This is confusing, please guide.
PS, Manyara

Under the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act, Act no 11 of 2007 specifically under section 12, the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau is authorized in writing to authorize any officer to search any person, if it is reasonably suspected that such person is in possession of property corruptly or illicitly acquired or to search any premises, vehicle, boat, aircraft, or vehicle whatsoever in or upon which there is reasonable cause to believe that any property corruptly or illicitly acquired has been placed, deposited or concealed.

You should also understand that the appropriate officer of the Bureau authorized to make any search under this section may make any search and, for the purpose of so doing may enter, using any reasonable force and accompanied by such other persons as he seems necessary to assist him, into or upon any premises, vessel, boat, aircraft or any other vehicle whatsoever.

There is nothing more to advise you than to require you to cooperate with such officer unless there are chances that the authorization is not coming from the Anti-corruption Bureau director General. In short, there is no requirement of a court order in this case.