By Fidelis Munyoro
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the judiciary and the legal fraternity following the death of High Court judge, Justice Clement Bigboy Phiri, on Sunday at his home in Marondera.
He was 60.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba led the judiciary and the legal fraternity in paying tribute to Justice Phiri, for his immense contribution to the development of the law in the country.
He expressed his profound condolences to the Phiri family on the passing on of their loved one.
“An astute, but unassuming judge, he will be fondly remembered for his immense contribution to the development of the jurisprudence of Zimbabwe in the 34 years he was in the justice delivery system,’’ said the Chief Justice Malaba.
The death of Justice Phiri left members of the legal fraternity who worked with him or appeared before him devastated.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said the death of Justice Phiri was a devastating loss to the country, describing him as an excellent judge, by far one of the best judges this country has ever had.
“Perhaps I should explain what we mean by an excellent judge: one who understands very quickly what issue he has to determine and quickly determines that issue,” he said.
“The primary role of a judge is to deliver justice in accordance with the law. Justice Phiri was such a judge. Some of our judges are still far from this: they miss the very first step of appreciating what it is that has to be determined, thereby failing to reach the second step of delivering justice to the parties appearing before them. Justice is not delivered by long augmentatives. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
Veteran lawyer Addington Chinake said Justice Phiri was a well regarded judge of the High Court bench who in his on quite and humble way made a difference.
“He went about his judicial responsibilities astutely and with diligence influenced by his background,” he said.
Mr Chinake first came to know Justice Phiri when he worked at Coghlan Welsh and Guests before branching out into the non-governmental organisation world as the director of the Legal Resources Foundation, after which he practiced as a senior partner in his law firm before he was called to the bar.
“He was appointed to the high court bench via the inaugural interview process under the new Zimbabwean Constituition,” said Mr Chinake.
Justice Phiri was born on June 24 1960.
He studied law at the University of Zimbabwe and after completing his legal studies he worked briefly In the then Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development.
In 2004, Justice Phiri became an Advocate, a position he held until he was appointed judge of the High Court on September 16, 2015. The Herald.