By Staff Reporter
THE Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has relieved under-fire Kwekwe magistrate Story Rushambwa of his duties following criminal abuse of office allegations and gross misconduct.
JSC spokesperson Rumbidzai Takawira told NewZimbabwe.com, Rushambwa had procedurally dealt with some criminal cases when he was officially on leave leading to his suspension last year.
“It is true that Mr. Rushambwa was suspended from work in December 2019 following allegations of criminal abuse of office after he unprocedurally dealt with some cases when he was on vacation leave.
“Besides the criminal allegations, the Commission also preferred misconduct charges against him,” Takawira said.
She said the hearing process into was naturally elaborate.
“Immediately after the lockdown was eased, Mr. Rushambwa’s disciplinary hearing was conducted and completed.
“The Commission found him guilty and imposed the penalty of discharge from service on 29 June 2020,” she said.
On the criminal abuse of office case, Takawira said the issue was still pending before Gweru courts where he is expected to appear 29 July.
“In terms of the law, any matter where the magistrate has taken evidence is regarded as partly heard by that magistrate and cannot be tried by another judicial officer.
“It therefore meant that all cases partly heard by Mr. Rushambwa had to be deferred until his disciplinary issues were completed.
“Further, the law provides that where a judicial officer ceases to hold office or is incapacitated from proceeding with cases he has partly heard, the proceedings are abortive and must commence afresh before another magistrate.
“This is what will happen to Mr. Rushambwa’s cases. Prosecution must urgently place them before another magistrate for trial and finalisation,” she said.
Rushambwa was jointly charged with Kwekwe Clerk of Court, Bright Mpiyabo earlier this year for criminal abuse of office.
This was after the two had been accused of facilitating the release of a stolen vehicle to controversial businessman Shepherd Tundiya.