Judiciary Corruption Storm:…. anti-corruption places magistrate under investigation

A Harare magistrate is under investigation on charges of deliberately defeating the course of justice after she “corruptly” released a former top ZESA official and two others who were in the dock for prejudicing the state USD $19 million where nothing was recovered.

Head of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office Thabani Mpofu instigated the legal proceedings against Ruramai Chitumbura after he wrote to Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi raising alarm over her, the Zim Morning Post can exclusively reveal.

This comes barely a few hours after this publication exposed the rot in the judiciary system after it got hold of a damning report that has since been handed over to Mnangagwa.

In a letter to Hodzi, dated February 6 2019, Mpofu said: “(Ex ZESA Holdings CEO) Joshua Chifamba, Julian Masango and Tokozane Dhliwayo were arrested on corruption allegations in October 2018 and placed on remand.”

“On the 18th of January 2019, three months after their initial appearance, the three appeared in court before magistrate Chitumbura. The public prosecutor applied for further remand as the docket was under investigation. The magistrate, without hearing a proper application for refusal of remand, proceeded to deny the application for further remand and released the accused persons from the obligation of attending court on remand. I have attached the report that was compiled by the prosecutor who handled the case hereto.”

Mpofu added that while it is accepted that magistrates largely have discretionary powers in determining matters before them, a consideration of all circumstances surrounding this case “points to a deliberate impropriety on the part of the magistrate in the decision that she made.”

Mpofu found it odd that the accused persons had been on remand for a period of less than three months, instead of the usual six months without trial date upon which a case is considered for removal from remand.

In adding on the date of their last appearance in court they did not present a full application for refusal of remand but magistrate Chitumbura removed them “from remand mero motu.”

Further “the accused persons are facing very serious charges involving the loss to the state of USD $19 million which was paid to an external source. The funds have not been recovered,” bemoaned Mpofu.

“The facts outlined above render the magistrate’s conduct grossly irregular.”

All this comes after Mnangagwa was handed a damning dossier on rampant corruption at the top echelons of the judicial arm of government involving high ranking state officials who have become filthy rich overnight.

Impeccable sources told Zim Morning Post that Mnangagwa had been handed the file which implicates senior members of the Judicial Service Commission. 

Chief Justice Justice Malaba is on record condemning the “terrible scourge called corruption” insisting as the “judiciary, we maintain our stance that cases of corruption must be dealt with decisively by the courts.”

However, Judicial Service Commission insiders said while Malaba has taken very opportunity during public appearances to castigate corruption, the vice is deeply entrenched in his own department.

There has also been concern over cases of magistrates being phoned with instructions to finalise matters in a particular way as well as those said to have become accustomed to demanding bribes from litigants.

There is consensus among stakeholders that there is need to do an inquiry on the subject matter on all provincial stations.