Remembering Johannes Tomana: A Controversial Yet Skilled Jurist
7 August 2023
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By Dr Masimba Mavaza | Zimbabwe’s legal community mourns the loss of one of its finest legal minds, Johannes Tomana, who passed away suddenly at the age of 56. Tomana’s life was characterized by both eminence and controversy, leaving a lasting impact on the nation’s judicial system and legal landscape.

A highly accomplished lawyer, Tomana’s career was marked by significant achievements. He served as Zimbabwe’s Attorney General in 2009 and later took up the position of Prosecutor General in 2013. During his tenure, he played a critical role in shaping the prosecution process, leaving a lasting legacy in the development of jurisprudence in the country.

However, his time in public service was not without challenges. Tomana faced criticism and attacks from various quarters, most notably from former First Lady Grace Mugabe. He made headlines and received public rebuke for his controversial statement suggesting that 12-year-old children could consent to sex, a remark that invited widespread condemnation.

Despite the controversies, Tomana’s legal prowess and dedication to justice were undeniable. His dismissal from the Prosecutor General position in 2017 for misconduct and incompetence marked a low point in his career. Nonetheless, his contributions to Zimbabwe’s legal community were significant, and he remained highly respected among his peers and the judiciary.

Tomana’s later years saw him transition to diplomatic work, serving as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though some regretted the loss of his legal expertise in this capacity, his roles in fostering reengagement with other nations and promoting diplomatic relations earned him further recognition.

The news of Tomana’s passing elicited an outpouring of tributes from the legal fraternity. Fellow lawyers, judges, and friends expressed shock and gratitude for his contributions to Zimbabwe’s legal system. He was hailed as a world-class lawyer with an unmatched flair for criminal law and a critical figure in the country’s democratic evolution.

Despite the controversies that accompanied his career, Johannes Tomana’s dedication to law and justice cannot be denied. He brought a unique perspective and understanding to the role of prosecution, making a lasting impact on Zimbabwe’s judicial system. The legal community mourns the loss of this eminent jurist and expresses heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.

As we bid farewell to this remarkable lawyer, let us remember his legal erudition, wide knowledge of legal principles, and commitment to his country. While his journey was not without its ups and downs, Johannes Tomana’s contributions to Zimbabwe’s legal landscape will be remembered for generations to come. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Farewell, great lawyer.