A former Kwekwe resident magistrate and his Clerk of Court have been sentenced to a combined 24 months in prison after they were convicted of abuse of office.
Story Rushambwa (48), a former resident magistrate at Kwekwe magistrates court was arrested together with the Clerk of Court Bright Mpiyabo (45).
The pair appeared before Harare regional magistrate, Mr Taurai Manwere, who was presiding over the matter at the Gweru magistrates court. Mr Manwere sentenced Rushambwa to 15 months in prison and Mpiyabo to nine months.
Rushambwa and Mpiyabo pleaded not guilty but were convicted due to overwhelming evidence.
The two accused who facilitated the release of a stolen vehicle to controversial businessman Mr Shepherd Tundiya, were found guilty of abuse of office.
Rushambwa was dismissed from work by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) following a disciplinary hearing on June 1 last year.
It was the State case that sometime in October 2019, a Toyota Hilux vehicle was impounded by the police from John Mapurazi, a miner in Kwekwe.
The vehicle was taken as an exhibit after it was fraudulently imported into the country. Prosecutors said the vehicle was handed over to Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) for customs management.
The court proved that on December 27, 2019, Mapurazi made an ex parte application seeking the release of the vehicle. Rushambwa and Mpiyabo, the court heard hatched a plan to order the release of the motor vehicle to Mapurazi.
Mpiyabo deliberately withheld the record so that the matter could be presided over by Rushambwa despite the fact that Rushambwa was on leave.
The court proved that Mpiyabo then placed the record before Rushambwa well knowing he was on leave. Rushambwa presided over the application in the absence of Mapurazi who was now being represented by Tundiya who is not a legal practitioner.
The magistrate went on to grant the order for the release of the motor vehicle to Mapurazi showing favour to him. The former officer-in-charge of CID Gweru, Detective Inspector Leonard Gwandu was last year sentenced to three years in jail for the same case.
Meanwhile, Gokwe Provincial magistrate, Mr Musaiwona Shotgame has been suspended to pave way for investigations into allegations of incompetence and misconduct levelled against him.
The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) suspended Mr Shotgame for three months for allegedly flouting laid down court procedures and failure to competently discharge judicial function in a case of territorial boundary involving Chief Masuka and Chief Mutendi of Gokwe.
According to a suspension letter a copy of which is in the possession of the Chronicle and signed by Acting JSC Secretary, Mr Sithembinkosi Msipa on July 14, Mr Shotgame was suspended with effect from July 14, 2022 and will be entitled to half his gross salary per month until October 15.
Mr Shotgame reportedly committed acts of misconduct by summoning Chief Masuka to court via WhatsApp and later failing to treat the matter as an urgent matter.
“It has come to my attention that you may have committed acts of misconduct in that you received a complaint from Chief Mutendi who had been involved in an issue of territorial jurisdiction with Chief Masuka, particularly in the matter involving Graciano Shava,” read part of the letter.
The two chiefs have been involved in a longstanding battle whereupon Chief Mutendi was complaining that Chief Masuka had dealt with an issue that fell under his jurisdiction involving Shava and that he had handed down an incompetent judgment.
Pursuant to the complaint by Chief Mutendi, Mr Shotgame summoned Chief Masuka to court with a view of purportedly exercising his reviewing powers in Terms of Section 25 of the Customary Law and Local Government Act.
“It is further alleged that after concluding that the issue of territorial boundaries of the chief’s was reviewable, you unilaterally summoned Chief Masuka to court by way of a WhatsApp Message and thus not following the laid down procedures of the serving process,” reads the letter.
Further allegations are that Mr Shotgame called the parties unprocedural on the basis of urgency and did not determine the matter up to date yet urgent matters by their nature demand that they be heard and their decisions made on urgent basis.
“You failed to competently discharge your judicial function by reserving a judgment in an urgent matter for a period of close to two months. Based on the above, as a disciplinary authority, do hereby suspend you from service with effect from July 2022,” said Mr Msipa. — Midlands Bureau Chief, Michael Magoronga. – Chronicle