Implementation of the Court Records Management System in the delivery of justice at the Gaborone Magisterial District, Botswana

Publication Date19 Nov 2018
AuthorTshepho Lydia Mosweu,Lekoko Kenosi
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance
Implementation of the Court
Records Management System in the
delivery of justice at the Gaborone
Magisterial District, Botswana
Tshepho Lydia Mosweu
Department of Library and Information Studies, University of Botswana,
Gaborone, Botswana, and
Lekoko Kenosi
Qatar Foundation, Qatar National Library, Doha, Qatar
Purpose Thepurposeofthisstudyistoassesswhetherthe implementation of the electronic Court
Records Management System (CRMS) at the Gaborone Magisterial District, Botswana, brought
improvements in the delivery of justice as expected in the management of case le records.
Design/methodology/approach Principally, a quantitative approach utilizing a research survey
design,supplemented by a qualitative approach was used in thisstudy.
Findings The CRMS implementation led to improvements in case le management at the Gaborone
MagisterialDistrict; case les were successfully capturedinto the system; retrieval of case lesbecame easier;
and incidents of lost and misplaced case les went down signicantly. Challenges included shortcomings
related to the security of digital case les, digital records preservation and disposition, records appraisal,
training, inadequate bandwidth and shortage of computers, as well as inadequate archives and records
managementstandards and guidelines.
Research limitations/implications The ndings of the study are limited to the case study and
cannot be generalizedto other organizations.
Practical implications The ndings should aid future implementation of court records management
systems in the judiciary specicallyand the public sector in general in Africa. Lessons learnt can enable the
avoidanceof pitfalls experienced in the implementationof CRMS by other courts.
Originality/value This paper providesempirical evidence from an original study.
Keywords Electronic records management, Botswana, Administration of justice, Court records,
Court Records Management System, Magistrate court
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
The Government of Botswana implementedpublic sector reforms to improve public service
delivery. These included the formulation of the National Vision 2016 and the National ICT
Policy, known as the Maitlamo Policy,which advocated for the use of ICTs in the delivery of
services to the public (Government of Botswana, 1997; 2007).Using ICTs in the delivery of
public services was part of the Government of Botswanas e-government programme
through which the government desiredto completely overhaul its business (Mosweu, 2016).
Through Vision 2016, the government undertook being at the forefront of information
technology with state-of-the-artcomputer and communications equipment,and to play a big
Received11 November 2017
Revised17 March 2018
19June 2018
13July 2018
Accepted13 July 2018
RecordsManagement Journal
Vol.28 No. 3, 2018
pp. 234-251
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/RMJ-11-2017-0033
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
part in the information age by 2016. Veedhi (2003) denes e-governance as the delivery of
government services and information to the public using information and communications
technology (ICTs) to facilitate an efcient, speedy and transparent process. Moloi and
Mutula (2007) observe that although e-government in Botswana is still in its infancy, it was
appreciated by the bureaucracy. The country also has a fairly modern technical
infrastructure that is capable of providing e-government services to the general public and
business. Millar (2004) argues that governments in both the developing world and the
developed world are seeking to computerise their core functionsthrough the use of ICTs to
improve access to their services.
A study done by Keakopa (2007) indicated that factors such as computer illiteracy, low
levels of education, high cost of technology, lack of awareness by the public of the use of
technology, lack of skill transfer, limited infrastructure and unavailability of power were
likely to restrict access to technology in Botswana. The World Bank (2005) had also
highlighted that even thoughthere was widespread agreement that computerisation offered
the way forward, it also brought new challenges in the sense that e-records were subject to
loss because of their reliance on changing technologies, their storage on fragile media and
their dependence on documentation that may be inadequate or missing. McCarthy (2006)
argues that the growth in ICT is a sign that the public sector is committed to achieving a
true transformation in the development, performance and delivery of public services. The
main purpose of the study was to assess the CourtRecords Management System (CRMS) (an
electronic system adopted and implemented by the Administration of Justice [AOJ] to
manage case le records at the Gaborone Magisterial District on whether it has brought
improvements in the delivery of justice. Improvement in this context refers to the extent to
which the objectives that were set were being implemented as achieved. The study was
originally submittedto the Department of Library and InformationStudies at the University
of Botswana in partial fullment of the requirement for a masters degree in Archives and
Records Management.
1.1 Background to the study
In recognition of technological changes in the twenty-rst century, the AOJ adopted the
CRMS to manage case les. The CRMS is a technological tool for recording and keeping all
les and other information safe for accurate and quick reference.The CRMS computers are
congured to be multifunctional, as they are able to reveal the parties in the case, the
pleadings, the status and the age of the le and all ordersthat have been made in the case.
Kruger (2005) states that AOJ implemented the CRMS for civil and criminal case
processing among all courts in Botswana. Bytes Technology Group (BTG) (Botswana) Pty
Ltd. was selected as the prime contractor for the implementation of the system. As part of
the services to be provided by BTG, an American Company, the ACS of Kentucky was
subcontracted to provide software and implementation services for the ACS Justice
Information System. The CRMS was implemented to improve service delivery through its
capacity to capture, store and retrieve accurate and up-to-date case les. The system was
generally meant to expedite theprocess of case management and thus improve the delivery
of justice in Botswana. Nganunu(2009), former Chief Justice of Botswana, explained that the
CRMS was introduced in recognition that a twenty-rst-century judiciary must rely on
information technology as the tool to increase productivity and improve performance. The
CRMS was piloted at the Lobatse High Court of Botswanain 2004 before it was rolled out to
the Magistrates Courts,including the Gaborone Magisterial District in 2006.A Statement of
User Requirement (SOUR) document was prepared for the implementation of the system.
According to the World Bank (2005),the growing emphasis on transparency and the need to
Court Records

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