By Oduor Michael
It was pomp and colors at Voi law court ground on Friday as the Voi high court users held a welcoming ceremony for the newly installed presiding high court judge George Ndulu
The ceremony commenced with the Judge briefing the judicial officers and later on the courtesy call at the judge’s chambers in Voi law court.
While welcoming judge Ndulu during the High court Voi Presiding Judge’s Engagement with the Court Users Committee (CUC), Bar Bench and stakeholders and Welcoming Event at Voi law court’s grounds on Friday, the OC Manyani Maximum Prisons Mr. Francis Opondo urged the judge to accept the prisoner’s petitions stating that there are a number of inmates whose files have been lost and that they request for petitions in order to serve their terms well.
“We have requested Judge Ndulu to accept their petitions so that we give them hope. If the petition will be accepted well and good, if the petition is rejected it is also fine but we shall have given them hope,” said Opondo.
According to him, having Judge Ndulu at Voi high court has given the prisons department and the inmates a lot of hope especially after the judge visiting Manyani Prisons.
“He has really given the prisons department and the inmates a lot of hope even after visiting them,” he said.
He noted that there is need to check on the time the prisoners have served in the different prisons across the county so that those who are supposed to be released get out and those who should continue serving their time in prison to continue stating that this will help to decongest the prisons.
Opondo reiterated that the prisons department will support the courts process to enable the newly installed judge to carry out his duties with ease.
Taita Taveta County Police Commandant Patrick Okeri also welcomed Judge Ndulu in the county and affirmed his support in ensuring the court processes run smoothly. He urged the Court users to embrace multi-agency approaches, teamwork and cooperation for smooth court operations while dispensing justice to the citizens of Taita Taveta County.
Speaking on behalf of the members of national assembly, Taveta MP John Bwire welcomed the new judge stating that it’s a new dawn for Taita Taveta residents who for a long time have been spending a lot of money and time while traveling to seek justice outside the county.
Hon. Bwire stated that this will save the residents of their time and money used while seeking justice outside the county which he said is something of the past as now there is a resident judge who will handle appeals from all the four Sub-counties in the county.
Taita Taveta County Deputy Governor Christine Kilalo warmly welcomed the new judge and assured the court of the county support towards ensuring the citizens of Taita Taveta receive the desired justice according to the constitution.
The Deputy Governor stated that there is need to build a children’s remand where they can be kept to avoid mixing them with elders after they have been arrested.
She also noted the need to have a rehabilitation center in Taita Taveta County as youths who engage in drug abuse after being caught are forced to go to Mombasa or Kwale for rehabilitation centers.
Kilalo stated that Taita Taveta county government in partnership with NACADA, are in the process of completing the rehabilitation center already started at Wesu in Wundanyi Sub-county.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor noted that there is a need to have a court in Mwatate Sub-county noting that all the other Sub-counties have courts and that other residents come from far away which, by having a court in Mwatate, will save on time and resources they use to look for justice.
“In Taita Taveta County, we have courts in Wundanyi, Taveta and Voi Sub-counties but in Mwatate we have no court. Mwatate is big and some residents come from very far away. If they have broken the law, they are forced to be taken to Voi or Wundanyi Law courts,” she added.
On his part, Voi High court resident judge George Ndulu who was also the guest of honor commended the unity of the Stakeholders, CUCs and the bar bench members urging them to keep up with the spirit and ensure justice is served to the residents.
“We will proceed to hear matters and we will proceed to discuss more in the CUC’s and I am told the CUC’s are very vibrant. Let’s keep it up. Let’s keep the attendance, let’s keep the participation,” said Judge Ndulu.
The high court Judge assured the court users and other stakeholders that everything raised will be addressed with the seriousness it deserves.
He further stated that despite having the prisons and remands, there are challenges of food for the inmates adding that once in a while, there is need for food distribution.
“The county government should know that remands have food challenges. Once in a while, there is a need to distribute food. These are our brothers and sisters. We will continue assisting one another,” said Judge Ndulu.
Judge Ndulu concluded by stating that as a court they will not fail in bringing justice to the people and that they are ready to move on.
Taita-Taveta County has four GK Prisons namely Manyani Maximum Prisons, Wundanyi, Voi Remand and Taveta.
In attendance was the interfaith leaders led by David Zoe, the business community led by Ashok Awand, Sauti ya Wanawake, Director of Children Services Juma Boga, director of probation and after care, LSK – Taita Taveta Chapter represented by Dancan Mwanyumba, Kenya Wildlife Service/AWF, Sub-county Police Commander, County head ODDP, Taita Taveta County Commissioner represented by the Deputy County Commissioner Daniel Nduti.