For a long time now, the Ministry of Justice has been warning court bailiffs against engaging in corrupt behaviour, but to no avail.
The court bailiffs have simply shrugged off the warning and continued with their malpractices in the execution of court orders and auctions.
The work of bailiffs is important in ensuring a functioning judicial system. They are who people turn to when court decisions are not executed voluntarily.
Unfortunately, both the government and private sector have for years blown the whistle on corrupt bailiffs and 32 have been expelled so far and 63 others since 2013.
They have been charged with cheating and extorting bribes, and have regularly been accused of making threats during auctions and yet they are supposed to be the official representatives of the courts.
The government has been tough on the association of professional bailiffs, and at one point the ministry even threatened to close down their association if they failed to exhibit integrity and ensure that court orders are obeyed.
Now, a new law governing their work is in the offing, as the government seeks to seal any loopholes that encourage them to be elusive in the execution of court judgments. However, a new law, as we have seen previously, is not enough. Professionalism has to first and foremost be enforced by the court bailiffs through their association.
A zero tolerance on corruption must be instilled in court bailiffs from their swearing-in ceremony to their time in the field and when there is suspicion of corruption thorough investigations must be conducted.
The Ministry of Justice has often also warned the bailiffs against accepting “presents and gifts” from the public in return for their services. But these efforts are not supported by the Professional Bailiffs Association, which on several occasions is always in defensive mode whenever its members are faulted.
The challenge now remains with the association’s new president Nyunga Antoine Sebera and his new board.
Mr Sebera has years of experience in this profession and was voted based on the promise that he will ensure honesty, efficiency, and loyalty within the Professional Bailiffs Association and ensure that the body serves its true purpose in the judicial system.
He has vowed to promote a good image of the association and fight against the downgrading of properties to be auctioned — a habit that has persisted within the association.
He also said he will follow up all bailiffs reported by the general public and warned members to only act based on the law and not sentiment.
Mr Sebera, we are watching and the public will hold you to your word.