High Court Judge stalking, harassing me — says GBV survivor; JSC accused of shielding ‘corrupt’ jurist 

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By Staff Reporter

A Harare woman, a survivor of gender-based violence (GBV), has filed a complaint against High Court Judge, Justice Catherine Bachi-Muzawazi for unprofessional conduct, stalking and harassing her.

Rita Marque Mbatha, who in 2021 won a landmark case at the High Court and awarded US$180 000 damages, has written to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) raising allegations the top jurist had illegally summoned her to chambers and tried to arm-twist her to consent to an application lodged by her tormentor and former boss, Farai Bwatikona Zizhou.

The letter dated December 28, 2023, also details how JSC allegedly attempted to sweep under the carpet the matter initially reported 15 months ago.

“The complaint arose after Justice Bachi-Muzawazi illegally and unlawfully summoned me in her chambers to threaten and demand that l consent to the application of rescission of judgement lodged by Farai Bwatikona Zizhou, a former chief executive officer at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), who brutally sexually harassed me during my employment at CZI.

“It is material that Justice Bachi-Muzawazi had legally advised Farai Bwatikona Zizhou.”

The complainant, who is a human rights advocate, also alleges she is being stalked at the behest of the judge.

“I have been to the Magistrates Court accompanying a relative on a plethora of occasions not aware that l was being watched and followed. I have been forced to alter my routines.

“This complaint presents a fundamental question on the right to dignity, right to privacy, and right to personal security. The right to human dignity is a non-derogable right.”

Allegations are also that JSC is protecting Justice Bachi-Muzawazi from scrutiny considering the time it has taken the organisation to reach a verdict over a complaint raised in September 2022.

“There is a threadbare intention to protect the judge who committed gross misconduct. The JSC is the body mandated by the Constitution to deal with the complaint and it should deal with a complaint which l lodged on the 16th of September 2022 (15 months ago).”

In confirming receipt of the complaint in 2022, deputy chief magistrate Bianca Makwande, acting on behalf of JSC secretary Walter Chikwanha, wrote to Mbatha on September 26, 2022, notifying that the matter was now under investigation.

However, 15 months have lapsed but the outcome of the probe, if any, has been kept under wraps by JSC, which the complainant says has become a “cesspool of corruption.”

Mbatha says she prays the wheel of justice will start turning in the public interest.

“…it would indeed be a sad day for the rule of law where serious allegations of illegality and judicial misconduct are swept under the carpet. The public interest demands that the allegations be investigated and finalised.

“Our Constitution protects survivors of sexual violence against naked stigma and guarantees their right to dignity. What happened and what is happening in this matter strikes at the heart of judicial integrity and constitutes gross misconduct.”