For many people in Rhodesia, justice is literally at a crossroads. Tribal tradition demands that?
For many people in Rhodesia, justice is literally at a crossroads. Tribal tradition demands that court sessions are held under a tree at a crossroads, and chiefs such as Jeremiah. Chirau regularly deal with a wide range of civil questions and petty crimes.
SYNOPSIS: This rural setting may seem a long way from the justice meted out at London's Old Bailey, or at the Palais de Justice in Paris, but for many Rhodesian tribesmen Chief Chirau's court under a tree, is the law as they understand it. Chief Chirau, who is the head of the Rhodesian Council of Tribal Chiefs, is said to be a tough disciplinarian, and in this part of the country his word is law.
The chief is a key figure in Rhodesia.
He is a member of Ian Smith's government, and is very much involved in the search for an internal settlement to the Rhodesian problem.
Local legal disputes though are just as much a part of Chief Chirau's responsibility as are national affairs. And at this particular session of the court he dealt with a wide range of offenses, including adultery.
The fine for being found guilty of adultery was just over 180 dollars. The heaviest fine he can impose is 200 dollars. He can also order people to receive six strokes of the cane.
All cases are recorded in English, and the chief sits with five assessors. Though the entire gallery is entitled to its opinion before the final judgement is given.
Chief Chirau, now 54, has been presiding over the court for 16 years. His father presided at the same location for 45 years.