Fuel supply at the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services improved yesterday and the organisation managed to bring suspects to court after four days of no show due to crippling shortages.
ZPCS spokesperson Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Banda, said they received 8 000 litres of diesel which was half of what they requested, adding that Government should prioritise fuel allocation to prevent transport challenges.
"Normally, every month the ZPCS requires about 16 000 litres of diesel for court business countrywide, but surprisingly we were given only 8 000 litres," she said.
"We also need fuel for administrative issues like taking suspects to hospitals and transporting their food, hence for our courts and administration we need 195 000 litres (per month)," she said.
Chief Supt Banda said they expected to receive more fuel in the next few weeks.
"Maybe in three weeks time they will give us another 8 000 litres and this means that we will not be able to transport suspects to court for a week which is against the Constitution," she said.
Chief Supt Banda said ZPCS would continue to engage the justice delivery system and other stakeholders to ensure that the situation was rectified since it was a disadvantage on the part of an accused person to be remanded in absentia and having the matter rolled further.
The Judicial Services Commission's secretary Justice Rita Makarau is on record saying lack of fuel for ZPCS created backlogs.
Harare lawyer Ms Belinda Rupapa of Zinyengere Rupapa legal practitioners, said by not taking the suspects to court, ZPCS infringed on the constitutional right of suspects to be tried within a reasonable period of time.
"Prisons is only mandated to detain suspects for purposes of bringing them to court, so if they are now failing to bring them to court, then the detention is unlawful," she said.
Another lawyer Mr Farai Nyamayaro said the delay caused unnecessary postponement of cases leaving witnesses frustrated.