New Zimbabwe.com

Top magistrate freed on stringent conditions, blasts detention in filthy cells

By Mary Taruvinga


SUSPENDED Chief Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe Friday raised complaint on being detained in filthy cells as he appeared in court for his second criminal abuse of office charge inside a month.

The country’s top magistrate, who was arrested and brought to court same day, was later ordered to report to the police four times a week, among other tough conditions.

Guvamombe is being accused of ordering his junior, Harare Regional Magistrate Elijah Makomo to surrender a case which involved a son to the former’s business partner.

He faces an alternative charge of defeating the course of justice.

According to the state, sometime in June 2017, Makomo was tasked to preside over a criminal case involving one Nathan Mnaba.

It is alleged that as trial progressed, the defence filed numerous applications which were thrown out by Makomo for lack of merit.

This prompted the defence to verbally demand his recusal from the case.

However, Makomo declined and advised them to file an application with the High Court or make a formal application with him.

The matter was then remanded to July 3 2017 to allow for the filing of the formal application for recusal by the defence.

On July 3 2017, the parties reported back and informed him that they had not filed the formal application of recusal.

Instead, they maintained that Makomo should simply recuse himself.

Makomo declined again and further postponed the matter to a later date, insisting they should file a formal application.

On July 10, senior regional magistrate Eastern Division, Mujaya, then superior to Makomo, advised the latter to report to Guvamombe’s office with Mnaba’s record.

Makomo complied and was told by Guvamombe in the presence of Mujaya that he was mishandling the matter and as such, he should recuse himself even without the formal application for recusal as per procedure.

Resultantly, Mnaba lodged a complaint against the manner in which the matter was being handled by Makomo which was faxed to Guvamombe’s office while Makomo and Mujaya were still in the top magistrate’s office.

Guvamombe went on to handle the complaint despite the fact that he had a business relationship with Mnaba’s father, Manson Mnaba.

It also emerged that Guvamombe’s relationship with the Mnabas started as early as June 8 2011 when he purchased a 5 000 hectare stand from Arosume Property Development Pvt Ltd represented by Manson.

As a result of Guvamombe’s interference and unlawful instruction, prosecutors further allege, Makomo recused himself, paving way for the underfire court official to allocate Mnaba’s record to another magistrate who later acquitted him.

Prosecuting, Zivanai Macharaga said Guvamombe acted contrary and inconsistent with his duties as a public officer by involving himself in a matter in which it was apparent he had conflict of interest.

When he appeared in court, Guvamombe complained over dingy cells in which he had been detained.

His lawyer, Jonathan Samkange said the state was unnecessarily trying to humiliate his client by bringing him to the court room via the cells.

He said there was no justification why Guvamombe had to spend the entire day being tossed around without being brought straight into court.

“What makes the abuse more pronounced is that it is being committed against the Chief Magistrate.

“We were sitting in their (prosecutors) office at 12pm to 15:30pm. They then took him to the cells. This was meant to humiliate him considering he is the boss here,” Samkange said.

Harare magistrate Morgan Nemadire presided over the case.

Guvamombe was later admitted to the same bail conditions as per his first offence of three weeks ago in which he was released on $3 000 bail.

He was also ordered to report to police four times a week while his surety value was increased from $30 000 t0 $50 000.