By Fidelis Munyoro
The trial of suspended chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe on charges of allegedly influencing a subordinate to recuse himself in a matter he had interest in, will commence on February 28.
Guvamombe is being accused of interfering with Harare magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo.
Mr Makomo was assigned a criminal case in which Nathan Mnaba was the accused and Nighert Savania the complainant.
According to the indictment, Guvamombe acted contrary and inconsistent to his duties as a public officer by involving himself in the matter which he had a conflict of interest and unlawfully interfered with the magistrate.
The State case hinges on the testimonies of senior regional magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya and senior magistrate Mr Makomo who have since given their statements to the police.
In his statement, Mr Makomo said Guvamombe asked him to recuse himself because he was mishandling the case which involved “mafia in town”.
He said when the trial started, it had numerous preliminary applications which he dismissed for lack of merit.
Mr Makomo said Mnaba’s lawyer in the company of prosecutor Mr Chimbari and a court interpreter approached him in his chambers on June 26, 2017 demanding that he recuses himself from the case.
Mr Makomo said he turned down the request and advised them to file their application with the High Court or make a formal application to him.
“I then asked what the grounds for recusal were,” he said. “The lawyer told me that they did not have any grounds, but simply wanted me to recuse myself.”
Makomo narrated how he was approached by his boss, Mr Mujaya, and went to Guvamombe’s office with Mnaba’s record.
“When we got to his office, the accused (Guvamombe) told us that I was mishandling the matter and was supposed to recuse myself if the accused (Mnaba) did not want me to hear his case,” he said.
Mr Makomo said Guvamombe advised him that although he was not personally known to Mnaba, he was known to his father with whom he had previously had some dealings.
“The accused then instructed that there was no way I would proceed with the matter in light of the two complaints and that the matter involved Mafia in town,” he said.
Mr Mujaya stated that in July 2017, he was summoned to Guvamombe’s office and instructed to bring Mr Makomo with him.
He said Guvamombe told them that it was advisable that Mr Makomo recused himself from the trial because of the allegations which he, however, did not specify.
After the duo left Guvamombe’s office, Mr Mujaya said the complaints referred to were then forwarded to his office.
He said he then instructed Mr Makomo to respond to the complaints, which he did.
Mr Mujaya said he submitted the response to Guvamombe’s office.
Guvamombe, he said, later called them again and insisted that Mr Makomo should recuse himself.
“He said that he had information which he could not say out and we were not supposed to argue,” he said. “He indicated that I was influencing (Mr) Makomo not to recuse himself.”
Mr Mujaya said according to the record Mr Makomo later recused himself at the instigation of Guvamombe on July 18.
Mr Zivanai Macharaga from the Anti-Corruption Special Unit would be leading the prosecution team while Mr Jonathan Samukange would be leading the defence team. The Herald