By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has dismissed claims it was forced to recommend misconduct investigations on High Court judge Erica Ndewere after the court official had granted bail to MDC Alliance top politician Job Sikhala.
Sikhala faces violence incitement charges against government.
He was granted $50 000 bail by Justice Ndewere.
However, there was claims this was the reason JSC took a step to recommend the setting up of a tribunal to investigate claims of misconduct against the judge.
In a statement, JSC denied this, saying allegations against the judge arose 11 months ago, long before Sikhala made a bail application at the High Court in September this year.
JSC said there was no connection ‘directly or indirectly’ between the decisions by the JSC and that of the Judge in the opposition official’s matter.
“Formal investigation into the allegations of the Judge’s misconduct commenced on 12 March 2020 and on the 6th of May, the Judge formally responded to the allegations,” JSC said Tuesday.
“On the 11th of September, the allegations against the judge were referred for consideration by the JSC in terms Section 187 (3) of the Constitution.
“This again was before the judgement in respect of Hon Job Sikhala’s bail application had been made.”
On the 15th of September, JSC resolved the Judge must be made to comment on the allegations and on 17th of September, the Judge’s legal practitioners wrote to JSC requesting to be given more time to respond to the allegations, which time was granted.
“The court’s decision on Honourable Job Sikhala’s bail application was only handed down on the 22nd September 2020, eleven months after the allegations against the Judge had risen and six months after the formal investigations had commenced.
“It is important to note that in all the deliberations and decisions relating to the allegations against the Judge by the JSC in the Chief Justice and the Judge President of the High Court did not participate because they were involved in the initial investigations on the allegations made against the Judge.
“The synopsis of events given above shows that there was no connection between the two decisions by the JSC and that of the Judge in Hon Sikhala’s matter.
“It is therefore unfortunate for one to attempt to link genuine accountability process that the Hon Judge is going through with the decisions that the judge made in court.
“The JSC respects and indeed makes every effort to protect the independence of the judiciary.
“This is a Constitutional imperative which we will always adhere to.”
Justice Ndewere of the Harare High Court is accused of “misconduct and conduct inconsistent with being a judicial officer”.
She granted Sikhala bail, who is charged with incitement of violence, on September 22 after spending a month at the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.