About Magistrate Courts

About Magistrate Courts

Magistrates Courts are created by statute, the Magistrates Courts Act, as subordinate courts. They are subordinate to the High Court. Unlike the High Court, Magistrates Courts are not created by the Constitution. They are therefore controlled and supervised by the High Court, through reviews and appeals. Powers of these courts are defined in the Act.

The Botswana Magistracy performs a very pivotal role in the Judiciary of this country. The Magistrates try the bulk of the offences committed in this country and they handle the bulk of common disputes between ordinary citizens of Botswana.

The following services are obtainable at the Magistrates Courts:

  • Family related cases such as paternity and maintenance orders
  • Adoption of children
  • Restraining orders in domestic violence cases
  • Civil suits; here individuals sue others for non-payment of debts, breach of contracts, etc.
  • Motion Court
  • Criminal trials- Magistrates Courts hear the bulk of criminal cases such as rape, robbery, theft, assault etc.

Magistrates Courts have gone through a complete transformation, from courts that were presided over by Administration Officers to courts wholly manned by professional Magistrates with legal qualifications. In 1966, there were only two magistrate courts in the country, one in Lobatse and the other in Francistown, but the growth and development of Magistrate Courts has been phenomenal. Today, the courts operate in 27 different centres around the country.

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