By Tendai Rupapa
The Judicial Service Commission has appointed Hwange regional magistrate Mr Collet Ncube to preside over suspended chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe’s criminal cases.
However, Guvamombe insisted that all the magistrates were his juniors and therefore opted to be tried by a High Court judge.
He is facing criminal abuse of office charges after he allegedly offered work-related attachment to former Cabinet ministers Saviour Kasukuwere and Supa Mandiwanzira at the Harare Magistrates’ Court where they are appearing on criminal charges.
Guvamombe, who is also being charged for interfering with a magistrate involved in a matter in which he allegedly had conflict of interest, yesterday appeared before Mr Ncube for trial.
The trial could not kick off after Guvamombe, through his lawyer Mr Jonathan Samukange, made an application for Mr Ncube to recuse himself from the matter on the basis that he was his junior.
Mr Samukange argued that all magistrates in the country, serving or retired, served under the chief magistrate and are therefore too junior to preside over Guvamombe’s trial.
“All magistrates serve under him. He is the boss of regional and provincial magistrates and therefore he cannot be tried by his juniors. It is my client’s view that he will not receive a fair trial and for him to get a fair trial, he should be tried by a judicial officer superior to him,” said Mr Samukange.
He further argued that the State’s key witnesses, Messrs Elijah Makomo and Hoseah Mujaya, were also senior to Mr Ncube hence might be biased towards his seniors during trial.
Prosecuting, Mr Zivanai Macharaga opposed the application on the basis that it lacked merit.
He said it was not the first time that a judicial officer has been tried by a fellow colleague. He then cited previous cases.
“The critical question here should have been on whether or not you, Your Worship, is capable of giving this accused a fair trial but there was nothing like that in their application. There is nothing that has been placed before this court that suggests you will be biased in your conduct. The State is ready for trial.”
Mr Ncube will make his ruling today. The Herald