Hwange magistrate hired to hear Guvamombe case

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE trial of suspended chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe failed to commence Tuesday after the under-fire court official again challenged the powers of a Hwange magistrate hired to hear his case.

Guvamombe is facing charges of defeating the course of justice after he caused a Harare magistrate to recuse himself in a case he is said to have had interests in.

Hwange magistrate Collet Ncube had travelled all the way to Harare to handle the case but Guvamombe insisted no Zimbabwean magistrate should have powers to preside over his case.

“The basis of the application is that Guvamombe is the current chief magistrate in Zimbabwe.

“All magistrates serve under him. He is the boss of regional and provincial magistrates and therefore he cannot be tried by his juniors,” said his lawyer Jonathan Samkange.

He went on, “As an example, it’s like a Chief in his area accused of an offence and is summoned to appear before a headman or a sabhuku.

“The village head reports to the chief and the same applies to you, Your Worship reports to the chief magistrate.”

Samkange said justice must be seen to be done in the eyes of an ordinary person.

Guvamombe’s lawyer said his client’s case was first handled by acting chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi during initial remand but was later passed on to regional magistrates, “an indication and admission that a provincial magistrate was too junior to hear his bail application”.

Senior Regional Magistrate, Hosea Mujaya and acting deputy chief magistrate, Elijah Makomo are key witnesses in his case.

“Mr Mujaya and Mr Makomo are both magistrates. I also worked with Mujaya when I was still a prosecutor,” said Samkange.

“My client is of the view that he will not have an impartial hearing. A fair trial will only be possible if Mr Guvamombe is tried by a judicial officer superior to him.”

Guvamombe also argued that Makomo “was personally involved in Ncube’s promotion”.

But prosecutor Zivanai Macharaga opposed Guvamombe’s application saying the latter’s arguments lacked merit.

He said the suspended boss has nothing to convince the magistrate to recuse himself.

“This is not the first time a judicial officer accused of an offence has been tried by a colleague,” he said.

“No magistrate is a complainant in this case. It is the State. So no magistrate can take it personal.

“You (presiding magistrate) never received a benefit from the accused and you owe him zero favour,” added Macharaga of the President’s special anti-corruption unit.

Guvamombe is accused of causing Makomo to recuse himself in case involving his business partners’ son’s fight with some Indian investors.

The State alleges he went on to rope in a Bulawayo magistrate to take over the case before he acquitted his partner’s son Nathan Mnaba.

Guvamombe also allegedly breached the law after he offered internship to former cabinet ministers, Saviour Kasukuwere and Supa Mandiwanzira knowing the two have pending criminal cases before the courts.

The State alleges that he offered them internship at Harare Civil Court where they were assigned to perform a clerk’s duties.

It is alleged the ex-ministers had privilege of accessing critical documents which could impact on their criminal trials.

Ruling on Guvamombe’s application will be delivered this Wednesday.