By Mary Taruvinga
CORRUPTION accused former chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe has made startling claims Zimbabwean female magistrates were being sexually harassed at work.
The one-time topmost magistrate said this when his trial commenced Wednesday, some months after a tribunal set to look into alleged acts of misdemeanour cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Guvamombe stands accused of abusing his powers after he offered internship to former cabinet ministers, Supa Mandiwanzira and Saviour Kasukuwere at the Harare Civil Court in the full knowledge they had pending criminal cases before the courts.
The two were pursuing law studies.
He is also accused of defeating the course of justice after he allegedly interfered with a case involving a business partner’s son.
Guvamombe denied the charges when his trial commenced before High Court judge Felistas Chatukuta.
In his defence, he accused his former junior colleagues of targeting him for having been a principled leader who tolerated no nonsense.
Guvamombe inadvertently revealed female magistrates, a highly enlightened crop of Zimbabwean professionals, were being sexually harassed by their colleagues.
Read part of his defence, “He will finally state that these are trumped up (charges), all motivated by malice on the part of his erstwhile colleagues who are being vindictive after having reprimanded them on different occasions from committing sexual harassment on female members of staff including magistrates…”
The former senior court official said he was also being punished by his colleagues for pressing hard on them over failure to use retention funds to improve operations in the department.
“…For example, at Harare Magistrate Court, litigants use bucket system in all the toilets as there is no running water.
“This is replicated at most magistraterial stations in the country,” further read part of his defence.
Witnesses to testify against him include magistrates Elisha Singano, Elijah Makomo and Hosiah Mujaya who were all stationed at Harare Magistrates’ Court during the time the crimes were allegedly committed.
The case was pushed to this Thursday after Guvamombe’s lawyer Jonathan Samkange asked for time to look for tribunal proceedings which he intended to bring before the court to support his client’s defence.
He said his client was already cleared.
It is the State’s case that by offering internship to the ex-ministers, the State was prejudiced of good administration since the two had access to documents which impacted on their pending cases.
Mandiwanzira and Kasukuwere are both law students at the University of Zimbabwe.
Nyanga South MP, Mandiwanzira was recently acquitted of criminal abuse of office but the judgement has been contested by the Prosecutor General amid reports of deliberate dereliction of duty by a senior officer.
Kasukuwere who is in exile in South Africa is facing corruption related charges.
His trial was yet to commence when he fled the country citing political persecution by the Emmerson Mnangagwa led regime.
In another case, Guvamombe is accused of defeating course of justice, in which it is alleged he caused magistrate Makomo to recuse himself in a case in which a Nathan Mnaba, his business partner’s son was involved in a fight with an Indian investor.
It is alleged that he deployed a Bulawayo magistrate to handle the case leading to Mnaba’s acquittal.