Magistrate Resigns, Accuses Judicial Commission Of ‘Slavery’

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has come under fire for allegedly practicing modern-day slavery after a local magistrate resigned citing “burnout”, among other reasons.

Kariba Magistrate Tafadzwa Mhlanga tendered his resignation letter last week describing his working relationship with JSC as acrimonious.

In the resignation letter gleaned by, dated September 16, 2021, Mhlanga wrote; “I hereby write to communicate my intention to resign from JSC upon the expiry of the notice period mentioned above.

“My working relationship with the Commission has drastically deteriorated from the time l was moved to Kariba Magistrates’ Court in January 2020.”

He added: “From the onset, l had vehemently objected to the redeployment exercise from Mvuma to Kariba Magistrates’ Court in a space of only one-and-half years at Mvuma Court.

“The actual basis of my redeployment was unclear. l had to leave my family behind in order to start a new life in Kariba.”

Mhlanga said his bosses at the JSC have repeatedly frustrated his attempts to be transferred from the resort border town.

“I have applied three times for voluntary transfer to Masvingo and Midlands provinces, but attempts have been denied.

“In one of the applications l had even managed to get another resident magistrate who was willing to move from Chivi Magistrates’ Court to Kariba Magistrates’ Court. This, again, was denied,” further wrote Mhlanga.

He also exposes the excessive workload he had to endure working at the Kariba JSC outpost.

“I have been working as a one-man station from September 2020 when Mrs (Bianca) Mahere voluntarily resigned up to this date.

“As a result of that, l could not go for two-week breaks that were afforded to other magistrates during that period of lockdown. It is also difficult for me to get annual off days in the absence of another magistrate,” he stated.

Mhlanga outlined that his request for leave was, until the time of his quitting, still pending since June 2021.

“I am being denied a fundamental right of going on leave due to the absence of a relief magistrate.

“It is, therefore, my considered view that it is high time for me to resign from the organisation and explore other employment opportunities,” Mhlanga wrote.

In a huffed response to Mhlanga’s resignation letter, JSC secretary Walter Chikwanha, represented by one S. Mutendamambo, accepted the resignation, before ordering the disgruntled law officer to stay home serving his notice period that ends on December 14.

Wrote Mutendamambo; “Please be advised that the Secretary has accepted your resignation with effect from 15 September 2021, and has waived the need for notice in terms of Section 14 (2) of the Judicial Service Regulations, 2015.

“This means that your resignation takes effect immediately with your last working day being 15 September 2021.”

Chief Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi has reportedly been rattled by Mhlanga’s resignation, which comes hard on the heels of Mahere last year at the same court at the resort border town.