Friday 21 April 2023


A corruption scandal involving the issuance of marriage certificates to ghost couples has allegedly erupted at the Rusape Magistrates’ Court where some senior and clerical staffers are being accused of conducting marriage ceremonies in the absence of spouses and witnesses.

At the vortex of the scandal is the Magistrate in charge of the station, Ms Annie Ndiraya; as well as Magistrate Ms Rufaro Mangwiro and one clerk of court only identified as Tede.

Tede is understood to be on the run.

The trio is being accused of allegedly issuing 109 marriage certificates and licences to couples who were not physically present before them from 2021 to date. It is suspected that their palms would have been greased.

The matter is now being investigated to establish whether Tede committed the offence alone by forging the two magistrates’ signatures.

The Judicial Services Commission recently conducted an audit at Rusape Magistrates’ Court to get to the bottom of the scandal.

JSC spokesperson, Mr Daniel Nemukuyu confirmed the audit, but said findings are yet to be released.

“A routine audit was conducted at Rusape Magistrates’ Court, and we are waiting for the findings. The outcome of the audit will determine the action to be taken,” he said.

The Manica Post has it on good authority that the JSC will soon institute a full scale investigation on the operations of the Rusape Magistrates’ Court amid strong suspicions that the marriage certificate scandal might be a tip of the iceberg.

In 2019, the JSC was forced to transfer all staffers from the court to other stations following corruption cases involving prosecutors, magistrates and clerical staff.

Contacted for comment, Ms Ndiraya refused to comment citing protocol restrictions.

Efforts to get comments from Ms Mangwiro were also in vain as she was not picking calls.

However, The Manica Post understands that a team from JSC led by acting Chief Magistrate, Mrs Faith Mushore, was camped at the station last week.

Sources privy to the unfolding scandal told The Manica Post that marriage certificates were being sold for a fee ranging from US$200 to US$500.

It is understood that those seeking spousal visas to join their partners abroad were primarily the beneficiaries of the rot.

Paid up spouses didn’t even have to appear before the magistrates to solemnise their unions.

A well-placed source said Tede is now a fugitive from justice after getting wind of the audit.

“When air travel restrictions were relaxed in 2021, there was a spike in the demand for marriage certificates as people wanted to reunite with their spouses abroad.

“This created an avenue for some officials to engage in underhand activities. They have been facilitated dubious marriages.

“For example, a woman would approach Tede and highlight that her husband who is in Europe cannot travel back to Zimbabwe to physically appear before the court and get married.

“However, once a bribe ranging between USD200 and USD500 was paid, the marriage certificate would be issued in the absence of the other spouse and witnesses. These certificates were signed by Ms Mangwiro or Ms Ndiraya,” said the source.

However, the source said the magistrates are now denying any involvement and are accusing Tede, who is on the run, of forging their signatures.

“When quizzed by auditors, the two magistrates denied any wrongdoing. They told the auditors that Tede forged their signatures on the certificates.

“Ms Ndiraya was also quizzed on why she failed to detect that some of the certificates had no supporting receipts to prove that payments had been made.

As the one in charge of the station, 109 marriages could not have been processed without her knowledge as she signs the station’s documents.

“Tede went AWOL during the course of the audit and has not reported for work since then.

“His whereabouts are unknown. If he is arrested, it will be clear if he operated alone or it was a syndicate,’ another source said. Manica Post


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