Judge blasts magistrate for passing “incompetent sentence”

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A High Court judge has rapped a Masvingo provincial magistrate for passing an “incompetent sentence” in an appeal made by two men who were convicted and sentenced to 18 months for stealing beer and cigarettes worth $40.

Wellington Mahwamure and Prince Dube were last year sentenced to 18 months each in prison by magistrate Oliver Mudzongachiso on charges of stealing beer and cigarettes from Timmy Bar in Mvuma.

Part of the loot worth $30 was recovered and the two accused were ordered by Mudzongachiso to pay a restitution of $5 each from the missing $10.

However, the two appealed against the sentence at the High Court and the matter was heard before Justice Garainesu Mawadze who set aside the sentence and attacked the magistrate for handing out an “incompetent sentence”.

“The challenge in this matter is how to rectify the incompetent sentence imposed by the learned provincial magistrate following the wrong procedure adopted in respect of count.

One would have thought that the experienced learned provincial magistrate would not make such elementary mistakes,” Justice Mawadze said.

The judge said it was a waste of time and resources to order restitution of a paltry $5.

“In relation to the order for restitution I enquired from the learned provincial magistrate if it was really necessary and prudent to order restitution of a mere $5? The response by the learned magistrate although robust is misplaced. The order of restitution was not made under the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act as the learned provincial magistrate rather boastfully states,” he said.

“My experience is that this paltry amount would be receipted by the Clerk of Court. Thereafter it would be banked by the court after which it would then be paid out to the complainant. Surely such a process is not worthy the paltry amount of $5 no matter the heightened sense of justice the learned provincial magistrate may possess. Common sense would dictate otherwise,” said Justice Mawadze before setting aside the sentence.