By Costa Nkomo/Ndatenda Njanike
HARARE Magistrate Morgan Nemadire has been arrested and charged with criminal abuse of office after he convicted but fined a Venezuelan national $700 after the latter was found in possession of 5kg of cocaine worth US$500 000.
Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana confirmed the arrest of Nemadire.
“Magistrate Morgan Nemadire imposed of $700 fine on a Venezuelan national, Delcy Daymar Rodriguez Guererro, who was convicted of possessing more than 5kg of cocaine worth US$500,000. He has now been arrested and charged with abuse of public office (corruption),” Mangwana confirmed.
However, soon after the ruling, the special anti-corruption unit in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office instructed the police to arrest the top magistrate on corruption allegations for passing a judgment that undermined the criminal justice system.
Nemadire convicted a Venezuelan woman arrested for possession of more than 5kg of cocaine valued at US$500,000 and passed a wholly suspended sentence and a $700 fine.
However, Mangwana’s tweet generated a lot of interest among many Zimbabweans with some condemning Nemadire’s arrest while others praised the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC)) for its attempts to curb corruption.
One of the people, who reacted to the tweet identified as Makoromokwa Zimba, said, “In Zimbabwe a judge has dismissed Nguwaya who was facing US$60 million fraud scotfree. Draxgate the judge is still at work;
“Former Health Minister (Obadiah Moyo) has been charged with looting of more than USD20 million and he’s still outside remand while those who hold placards demonstrating are jailed without trial. Sour grapes. Shame.
Responding to the same tweet, Tawanda Machaka, said, “I think it’s wrong to arrest a judicial officer for handing down judgments or sentences we are not happy with. The law always provides a recourse against such. Judicial officers must exercise their functions without fear of arrests in case some don’t agree with them.
“For instance , we have a magistrate who almost had all his judgments denying bail 2 certain figures have overturned at the High Court. If it’s a case of incompetence then the JSC (Judicial Service Commission) must step in & discipline it’s employees. Arresting them should only be on concrete evidence of corruption.”
Simanga S. Dube was not happy at all. “So the arrest then tells us that our magistrates don’t follow any law in Zim but make judgements are based on their personal judgements. Constitution is obviously not used in our courts. And that means judgements are passed based on who the offender is.”
Mehlulisizwe also reacted to the tweet, saying, “After watching the Tilder Moyo Live Youtube Comrade @nickmangwana there are lots of cases that need to be reviewed !!! Magistrates are sending innocent ppl to prison !!! I think every convicted person must be afforded a lawyer … I know its difficult but eish the cries are painful.”
But some praised Zimbabwe’s law enforcement agents saying they are doing a wonderful job in attempting to curb corruption in the country.
The Venezuelan woman was arrested last year at Robert Mugabe International Airport following a tip off that she was in possession of cocaine.
A Mbare woman, Veronica Matongo, who was arrested last year and found in possession of 2,3kg of cocaine worth US$184,464 was sentenced to 15 years in prison. A Peruvian, who was also arrested and found with one kilogram of cocaine last December, was sentenced to10 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna will Wednesday deliver his judgment in a case in which State prosecutor Tawanda Kasema is seeking bail.
Kasema was arrested last week for consenting to the release on bail of a gang of notorious armed robbers who include ring leader Musa Taj Abdul at the High Court.
The gang members had been evading police for the past 20 years.
He is also facing charges of criminal abuse of office.
Nduna sought time to go through lengthy submissions by both the state and defence.
During bail hearing, Kasema denied ever being on the run as alleged by prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti.
Through his lawyer, Steady Kachere, Kasema said he in fact handed himself over to the police upon receiving news that he was being sought.
“Accused disputes turning his phone off and left his home on the 15th of December for his lawyer to assist him with inquiries of which police station sought him,” said the lawyer.
“His lawyer arrived at the office at 2 pm before contacting Mr. Uladi from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), inquiring whether there were any criminal proceedings against him.
“Uladi did not disclose much information but said the accused must report for work, neither confirming or denying that there was a reported case.”
His lawyer also stated that when the police went to his place did not identify themselves as police officers but his workmates.
“Hence the accused will state that there was no message or communication left with his parents to report to any police station.
“Police used an unmarked vehicle and were in plain clothes.” said lawyer Kachere.
Kasema was arrested last Thursday after handing himself over to the police at the Harare Central Police Station.
His arrest came a day after Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi suspended him over the criminal allegations.