Harare magistrate, prosecutors in $20k bribe storm

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By Court Reporter

HARARE magistrate’s court officials and special prosecutors from the President’s office are on the spotlight after a top city lawyer on Monday threatened to name and shame some of them for allegedly demanding a $20 000 bribe from one of his clients.

Advocate Sylvester Hashiti is representing former Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa who is accused of abusing authority during his tenure by appointing ex-permanent secretary and co-accused Francis Gudyanga into a one man MMCZ board.

Hashiti made the sensational claims against special prosecutor Zivanai Macharaga while also dragging presiding magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini into the bribe accusations.

“My investigations point to the effect that the $20 000 bribe was meant to be shared amongst special prosecutors and the court officials.

“I will expose some court officials if I confirm that they were really involved in the scheme.

“If I investigate and find out that you (the magistrate) were involved, I will come back and tell you,” Hashiti said.

The lawyer said this while applying to have Vhitorini recuse himself in the case.

Hashiti also said his client, Chidhakwa was uncomfortable with the sudden change of magistrates handling his case.

He again claimed that prosecutor Michael Chakandida from the special unit was not qualified to handle his case.

The Harare attorney also came close to accusing Chief Justice Luke Malaba of attempts to meddle with the case for unknown reasons.

Earlier in the morning, Vhitorini dismissed an application by Hashiti seeking stay of proceedings until the Constitutional Court determined prosecutor Michael Chakandida of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit’s capacity to prosecute.

However, Vhitorini refused to recuse himself, saying he did not see any reason why he should do so.

“I do not see any reason why I should recuse myself. I’m properly presiding over the matter. I have not made any biased ruling. I am independent in this matter and I therefore dismiss this application,” Vhitorini ruled.

After his both requests were turned down, Hashiti made a notice that he was going to approach the High Court to seek review of Vhitorini’s ruling.

The case will be back in court on January 4.