Court name
High Court of Tanzania

Director of Public Prosecutions vs Yahaya Upanga & Another () [1983] TZHC 15 (19 May 1983);

Law report citations
1983 TLR 151 (TZHC)
Media neutral citation
[1983] TZHC 15

Korosso, J.: This an appeal lodged by the director of Public Prosecutions against the D decision of the trial court which acquitted the 1st accused one Yahaya Upanga and the 2nd accused one Zakaria Ngonyani who were charged with the offence of stealing by E person employed in the public service c/ss. 270 and 265 of the Penal Code.
It is convenient that I give a brief history of these proceedings the subject of this appeal. The accused were formally charged before the District court of Mwanza on 27/5/1982. F From then to 24/9/1982, the case had been fixed for hearing on 10/9/1982; 24/9/1982 and on 23/10/82. On 10/9/82 the hearing did not take place because the trial Magistrate was reportedly on safari. The hearing was adjourned to 24/9/82 on which date the witnesses who had attended court on 10/9/82 had been warned to attend court.
On 24/9/1982, the hearing did not take place because the witnesses who had been G bound over to appear did not turn up. The hearing was consequently adjourned to 27/10.1982. On 27/10/1982 the prosecutor is recorded as being absent. The court proceeded to dismiss the charge and acquit the accused under the provisions of section 198 of the Criminal Procedure Code. H
Mr. Mtaki, the State Attorney representing the Republic cited the case of D.P.P. v Kunduchi Sisal Estate, Criminal Appeal No. 103/80 decided by the late Sir Philip Biron then the judge of the High Court and that the same case was followed in the case of D.P.P. v Leonard Rugemereza and 7 Others, Criminal Appeal No. 188/80, I decided by Mr. Justice Chua, (unreported). I have had time to read

both judgments. Both appeals involved consideration of the provisions of section 198 of A the Criminal Procedure Code under which the subordinate courts had acted, resulting in the discharge of the accused. In allowing the appeal in D.P.P. v Kunduchi Sisal Estate case His Lordship observed, thus, I quote: B
   As I think sufficiently demonstrated the person who failed to appear on 12th May, 1980 when the case was set down for hearing was not the complainant. And further still the case was not dismissed on the first day it was set down for hearing. Therefore section 198 of the Criminal C Procedure Code couldn't have been invoked. I must confess that I find it distasteful particularly on criminal matters to determine a case on pure technicality, but as this case was never heard on its merits which is the proper way a case should be disposed of but dismissed on technicality, I have not the slightest compunction in applying the strict letter of D the law and restoring it on a technicality.
Obviously this case is not relevant to the facts in the case the subject of this appeal as the accused were acquitted under the provisions of section 198 of the Criminal Procedure E Code on the absence of the Public Prosecutor who on the authority of the case of D.P.P. v Martin Nguma and Others was held to be the complainant in all cases in which the Republic is being represented by the State Attorney or the Public Prosecutor.
In the course of writing judgment in the case of D.P.P. v. Leonard Rugemereza and 7 F Others, Criminal Appeal No. 188/80, Mr. Justice Chua referred to the celebrated case of D.P.P. v Martin Nguma and Others, Criminal Appeal Nos, 48 and 69/76 decided by the defunct Court of Appeal of Eastern Africa.
In the case of D.P.P. v Martin Nguma referred to previously supra, the meaning of the G word complainant found in section 198  of the C.P.C. was fully dealt with. It was held that where  a person complains directly to the magistrate in a criminal matter then that person is a complainant in that particular case. If, however, the same person goes and complains directly to the police and the police take  such a complaint to the Court then H the Republic or the Public Prosecutor representing the Republic becomes the complainant and the victim of the wrong complained of becomes a witness for the purpose of proving the alleged wrong. Undoubtedly Mr. Justice Chua had in mind the real meaning of the word complainant as found in section 198 of the C.P.C. when I dealing with the case of D.P.P. v.

Leonard Rugemereza referred to above. He made the following observations. I quote: A
   ...there is no rule of law that requires that the same prosecutor who appears at the time of fixing a hearing date should appear or conduct the hearing; and surely for purposes of B representation the Republic cannot be said to have been absent solely because the person who was anticipated to conduct the case was absent. The presence of prosecutor Mbulu constituted presence by the Republic. C
On the authority of the celebrated case of Martin Nguma and Others referred to above it is now settled that a Public Prosecutor or a State Attorney or the Director of Public Prosecutions for that matter representing the Republic in any criminal proceedings is the D complainant, and further that the presence of the complainant must be physical presence and not constructive presence. The relevant portion of the Eastern Africa Court of Appeal's Judgment reads thus, I quote:
   We think that presence must be physical presence and cannot be constructive presence or E non-presence. the advocate for the appellants would construe appearance to mean physical appearance combined with the ability of the complainant there and then to proceed with the conduct and hearing of the case. We are not satisfied that such an extended meaning can be F put on the words appearance.
Coming now to the instant appeal, I find that the facts in this case are clearly distinguishable and distinct from those obtaining in the case of D.P.P. v Leonard G Rugemereza and Others referred to  supra in the judgment. In the instant case the subject of this appeal the public Prosecutor then the statutorily recognised complaint was not physically present in court and nobody appeared to explain or plead for his absence. Conversely, in the case of D.P.P. v Leonard Rugemereza and 7 Others, one Public H Prosecutor was physically present in court. Mr. Mtaki, the State Attorney representing the Republic in this appeal submitted before me that the case was a serious one and so the trial Magistrate should not have very lightly dismissed the charge and acquitted the accused. He went on to say that it is possible for one public prosecutor to conduct I prosecution before two Magistrates. He stated that the trial Magistrate should

have adjourned the case so as to find out what had actually caused the prosecutor's A absence. He concluded by saying that the trial magistrate should have made an effort to look for the prosecutor.
It is common knowledge that at the Mwanza Resident Magistrate's Court there are more Magistrates than one. Invariably the Magistrate in charge of the station prepares a B weekly case list showing cases assigned to each and every Magistrate. These weekly case lists are distributed to the prosecutors. The prosecutor  in charge of other prosecutors is responsible for ensuring that there is a sufficient number of prosecutors for assigning to every magistrate. It is also a long established practice for court proceedings C to start at 9.00 a.m. or thereabouts. If the public prosecutor was not physically present in the court at the usual time where was he? If the prosecutor assigned to the trial magistrate had problems why could he not see the trial Magistrate before the court work started? If there were not sufficient number of prosecutors at the station it was the D inescapable duty of the officer in charge of the prosecutors to so inform the trial Magistrate. It is both highly derogatory and ridiculous to expect the trial Magistrate to have gone about chasing and hunting for prosecutors in their offices or in the corridors of the court building. The Magistrate's role is the adjudication of cases and not the E mobilisation of public prosecutors. Court should never allow itself to be placed in a position where it is forced to conduct its court proceedings according to the whims, likes and dislikes of Public Prosecutors. A Public Prosecutor attached to the court is equally an officer of the court, junior to the Magistrate and he must perform his court work F under the superintendence, direction and guidance of the Magistrate and not vice versa.
Referring again to the case of D.P.P v Leonard Rugemereza, Mr. Justice Chua had time to refer to the inherent power  of the court on the principle enunciated in the case of G D.P.P.v Martin Nguma and Others. In his judgment Mr. Justice Chua observed thus, I quote:
   I agree, however, that a period of over two years is inordinately long to have to prosecute such a case. The remedy, however, is not in acquitting them. The trial Magistrate could have invoked H the inherent power of the court to discharge the accused, but the effect of such an order has been held to have the effect as an order  under Section 86 (a) of the C.P.C. in which case the prosecution could bring the same charge the next day. I

I fully agree with His Lordship's observation about the court's inherent power that can be A invoked say where after repeated adjournments the court refuses to grant further adjournment. However, I have a feeling that his Lordship has restricted very much the applicability of the court's inherent power. Its applicability is wider than that envisaged in B that judgment. In this respect it is appropriate that I quote the relevant portion of the Court of Appeal's judgment in the case of D.P.P. v Martin Nguma and Others. It reads thus:
   The fact that the legislature has empowered the court in terms of section 201 of the C.P.C. to C grant or refuse an adjournment necessarily implies that a court has power and authority to enforce an order, it makes. To hold otherwise would make the power granted to the court meaningless or illusory. A court must within reason have the power to control and regulate its D own proceedings in order to prevent itself from being emasculated or rendered impotent. Some of these regulatory powers derive from a court's inherent power to control its own proceedings which originate from Common law or the very nature of its function not E necessarily from status; such as the power to punish summarily for contempt. We believe that a court can in such circumstances of emergency clothed as it with inherent power to control its own proceedings, dismiss the charge and discharge the accused despite lack of statutory F provisions to that effect. We think that such a discharge and dismissal would be sufficient  exercise of the courts inherent power to regulate its own proceedings and that an order of acquittal unless in the most exceptional circumstances is unnecessary and unsuitable for that G purpose. (The underlining is mine). An order of the court in the exercise of its inherent power must be fair and reasonable and in exercising it a court must look at a matter  realistically and keep in view and in balance the rights of an accused person and the duty of the prosecution to bring miscreants to justice.
As I see it the quoted passage of Court Appeal's judgment has two sets of rules. The H first rule is that if under any circumstances the court refuses to grant the application for adjournment then it may dismiss the charge and discharge the accused in which case the prosecution could subsequently recharge the suspect of the same offence based on I identical facts. The second rule which I have

emphasized by underlining it is the court refuses to adjourn the case after an application A for adjournment whether or not the case was ready for hearing on that day on which the refusal is made and if the circumstances of the case are exceptional the court may invoke its inherent power by dismissing the charge and acquitting the accused. The court emphasises that the invocation of the inherent power should be resorted to when it is B strictly necessary and desirable, and that it should be exercised judicially.
The question to ask is whether we have in our courts cases which may suitably qualify as being exceptional circumstances. The answer to my knowledge must be an emphatic C "yes". There are hundreds of cases in many of our courts which are of exceptional circumstances. In many courts in this country there are many cases pending for months and even years in the traffic registries, while the unfortunate accused keep on paying frequent pilgrimage to the court. Some of them may only involve the offence of driving D motor vehicle with defective brakes or some minor accidents occasioning damage to the accused's own motor vehicle. There are cases of simple thefts involving hundreds of shillings as well as offences of pick pocketing. There are offences of  being found in possession of stolen property or property suspected of being unlawfully obtained. There E are offences of unlawfully being found within the harbour premises; being found in possession of bangi; being a rogue and vagabond. The suspects of these offences are more often than not destitute persons whom nobody would dare stand surety for. The result being that they are invariably remanded in prison at great government expense. F There should be no justifiable cause for these petty criminal cases to be adjourned for more than three times without the court taking an action by invoking one of these two rules enumerated in the case of D.P.P. v Martin Nguma and Others. Many years since G the inception of post independence legal system in the country the courts have always found themselves in a dilemma in certain very trying and exceptional circumstances mainly for complete absence of an express statutory provision purposely legislated to enable the courts in the country to regulate and effectively control their judicial H proceedings. The courts should henceforth not allow this inexcusable stagnation of the cases filed in court because this is not at all compatible with an administration of justice worthy of a good reputation. The Magistrates, one and all, are urged to carefully review their congested traffic and criminal registries and see if there are cases for which there are exceptional circumstances demanding immediate action by sweeping clean their long I pending cases after prior

caution and warning to the prosecutors. This is particularly desirable bearing in mind the A prevailing obvious notorious fact that our prisons today all over the country are appallingly over-crowded; apparently constituting a potential danger to the lives of the inmates who, after all, are an essential part of our reliable human resources so vital for development in the country. B
With the foregone grounds I feel resolutely inclined to uphold the trial magistrate's order for acquittal.
C Appeal dismissed.