LOCAL institutions of tertiary education should introduce professional courses on criminology to help promote social cohesion and prevent crime in the country.

The call was made by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva when he officially opened the Hwange High Court Circuit in Hwange yesterday.

Justice Takuva lamented the prevalence of crimes such as murder and corruption, which he said are a result of lack of social cohesion in the society.

“Criminology is not recognised or practised in Zimbabwe and could play a significant role in the fight against crime and the general maintenance of social order.

“There is a need to introduce criminology as a profession in Zimbabwe which would specifically work on crime prevention and social cohesion to create a crime free country.

“My plea to our tertiary institutions is that they should consider offering criminology from undergraduate through to doctorate degree level like Monash South Africa, University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of South Africa and University of KwaZulu Natal,” said Justice Takuva.

Criminology is a scientific study of causes, occurrences, control, relations to, extent and prevention of criminal behaviour in both the individual and in society.

Justice Takuva said it will help balance between crime prevention and punishing offenders through rehabilitation.

He said once professionally trained, criminologists will help prepare victim impact statements which are key in court proceedings as they assess impact of criminal conduct upon victim or any affected person such as loss of income, loss of breadwinner and permanent injuries induced by the perpetrator.

The Bulawayo High Court judge said effective justice delivery should protect victims.

“Criminology has spawned a sub-discipline of its own called victimology, which is the scientific study of criminal victimisation and focuses on relationship between the victim and the offender as well as relationship between the victim and the criminal justice system, social services and other social groups and institutions.

“This criminology and victimology will empower the country to research on justice and criminal law reform, international organised crime, human trafficking, drugs, corruption and cyber crime,” he said.

Justice Takuva said rights of victims are provided for by various international organisations and conventions.

He said Zimbabwe can benefit from joining the World Society of Victimology whose membership is drawn from victim assistance practitioners, social scientists, social workers, lawyers, physicians, civil servants, volunteers, university academics and students.

Justice Takuva commended stakeholders for working together in justice delivery.

He urged law enforcement authorities to diligently implement anti-corruption statutes in line with the country’s zero tolerance to graft approach.

Fourteen murder cases have been set down for hearing at the Hwange Circuit High Court.

Justice Takuva said it was worrying that all the cases involved violence mostly perpetrated by youths over petty issues.

“The culture of killing seems to have become synonymous with life in so many communities. What is of great concern is that the murders arise from petty squabbles at beer drinks or minor family disputes. Most of the murders are committed by youthful offenders who roam around business centres consuming alcohol, taking drugs and then turn violent.

“We must find solutions to the violent behaviour in our communities,” he said.

The judge said most cases were going unreported because some members of the society have little trust in the justice system.

Present at the occasion were members of the legal fraternity, National Prosecution Authority, Judicial Service Commission, service chiefs, captains of industry, heads of government departments, church leaders and Chiefs Nekatambe and Mabhikwa of Dete and Lupane respectively.

Proceedings started with Justice Takuva inspecting a guard of honour.herald