Number of juvenile offenders increases

THE National Prosecution Authority (NPA) has expressed concern over the rise in crimes involving juveniles with 691 arrested for various offences last year.

According to the 2015 NPA annual report presented in Parliament by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, the offences ranged from assault, malicious damage to property, fraud, unlawful entry and theft, trespassing, theft of trust property, use of counterfeit material, making off without payment, plain robbery, indicating witches and wizards, contravening the Wildlife Act, criminal insult, possession of stolen property to unlawfully wearing camouflage.

Other crimes included disorderly conduct, deliberately supplying false information to the public authority, public drinking, stock theft, defeating or obstructing course of justice, physical abuse and public fighting.
Number of juvenile offenders increases
Harare had the highest number of juvenile offenders with 273 cases, followed by Chitungwiza at 164, Bulawayo (151), Gweru (69) and Murewa (34). Only three of the 691 cases were withdrawn before plea.

“The department received 691 cases and successfully completed 514 cases, of which 426 were successfully diverted, 88 went through due process and 92 are pending, five were defaults and three were withdrawn,” the NPA report read.

“Of the completed cases, it is noteworthy that only 17% of young offenders were referred for prosecution, a clear indication that the pre-trial diversion programme is effective in keeping young offenders away
from the mainstream criminal justice system through efforts to reform them early.”

The NPA said the shortage of resources was frustrating efforts by diversion officers to follow up on all cases dealt with through the programme.

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