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Botswana’s judiciary embarks on ambitious DX drive

Botswana’s judiciary has initiated several projects to fully digitise its processes in order to expedite service delivery.

Chief Justice Terence Tsatsilakgosi Rannowane said the projects include real-time court reporting and virtual courts.

“Real time court reporting system has been installed in some courtrooms in Lobatse, Gaborone and Francistown High Court Divisions,” said Rannowane, adding that with real-time reporting, recordings can be displayed on a large screen for audiences or transmitted to remote locations.

He said once fully implemented, resources permitting; real-time reporting will eliminate the need to transcribe notes to produce a transcript of the proceedings, which can be incredibly tedious and time consuming for court reporters.

“This will in turn address the prevailing challenge of the delay in the transcription of records of proceedings which contributes to the delay in the hearing of appeals,” said Rannowane.

The judiciary is also considering technology to enable instant transcription of audio files into text.

Rannowane explained, “The adoption of new technology will hopefully make court proceedings available within hours of the conclusion of court hearings and will permanently rid our courts of backlog in the transcription of proceedings, thereby expediting the hearing of appeals.”

With the advent of the COVID-19, Rannowane believes it has become more urgent for the Judiciary to adopt reforms such as virtual conduct of proceedings in an attempt to reduce the need for physical appearance of litigants and attorneys in the courts and to enable the adjudication of cases online.

“There have been instances where the courts have conducted hearings virtually. However, for this reform to be fully implemented, there is need for the procurement of relevant IT equipment as well as the installation of effective internet Wi-Fi facilities throughout all our courts,” he said.

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