Saturday, 27 April 2019

CORRUPTION : ALL RUSAPE COURT STAFF TRANSFERRED


THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has cracked the whip and transferred all its officers at Rusape Magistrates’ Court in a bid to protect the “integrity and professionalism of the organisation” amid a slew of corruption and criminal abuse of office allegations that had dented their continuous involvement in the local criminal justice system, The Manica Post can reveal.

The paper has it on good authority that magistrates, clerks of court, court recorders, interpreters, community services officers, cleaners and security personnel were served with notices of transfer in a major shake-up in which they were posted to various stations across the country.

The transfers take effect on June 1, 2019.

The shake-up has, however, coincided with the retirement of regional magistrate Mr Livingstone Chipadza, who sources said would be replaced by regional magistrate Mrs Lucie-Anne Mungwari, at the end of May 2019. 

The winds of change have however, spared Mr Gift Manyika, who was posted at the station late 2018.

The magistrate-in-charge of the court Mr Shane Kubonera is understood to have also been served with a notice of transfer to Esigodini in Matabeleland South, while Ms Patience Ururu-Madondo was posted to Murehwa.

Mrs Elizabeth Hanzi is going to Chipinge.

A magistrate and two security officers will be transferred from Chipinge Magistrates’ Court to Rusape.
  
There had been long standing complaints over the way some cases were being handled at the court. Allegations abound that some court officials would “wine and dine” with known criminal elements whose cases were pending at the court.

Court records had been mysteriously disappearing and in some cases dockets were tempered with, especially witness statements, in desperate circumstances aimed at defeating the course of justice.

Some of the acquittals, particularly of high profile cases, have raised eyebrows, prompting worried citizens and stakeholders to petition the Prosecutor General’s office to have some cases transferred from the court.

There are unprecedented circumstances where the trial of some cases failed to kick off almost a year after initial appearances.

In 2018, two clerks at the court were jailed over criminal abuse of duty after extorting money and foodstuffs from relatives of a suspect on the pretext that they would secure his acquittal.

Last week another clerk of court, Britt Zambara was arrested for allegedly tampering with fines books and converting fines to her own use. 

Zambara’s case is pending at the Mutare Magistrates’ Court.

Zambara’s case was reported to JSC via an anonymous letter and this prompted the commission to crack the whip.

The acting chief magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi confirmed the transfers, adding that the move was meant to protect the “integrity and professionalism of the organisation”.

Mr Mutevedzi, however, said it was not unprecedented to have the entire staff, including cleaners, transferred.

“It is correct that the JSC has transferred all its members of staff from Rusape to various stations around the country.

“This is not the first time the JSC is implementing this strategy. This Commission (JSC) has previously used the same intervention to good effect in other places such as Beitbridge where red flags were raised in 2016.

“Other stakeholders in the administration of justice have also acknowledged the strategy’s effectiveness and resorted to it.

“The transfers are in accordance with JSC regulations and its strategic priorities as set out in Section 12 of part 4.4 of the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020. 

“That strategic focus area mandates the commission to participate in the formulation and implementation of sector-wide interventions to enhance integrity of the administration of justice.

“There is no evidence of members of staff engaging in widespread underhand dealings at the station. We have, however, received complaints and noted some system inadequacies during routine monitoring and evaluation visits to Rusape. It then became necessary to realign operations at the station.

“In an isolated incident which is already in the public domain, a clerk of court was arrested on allegation of tempering with court records.

“The veracity of those allegations are only proved in a court of law,” said Mr Mutevedzi in an emailed response. Manica Post

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