By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Courts |
Suspended High Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere, who granted MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala bail last year, feels she is being victimised for defying “unlawful” orders from Chief Justice Luke Malaba.
Justice Ndewere revealed this when she appeared before a three-member tribunal led by retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako. The tribunal is sitting to inquire into her fitness to hold office.
When Justice Ndewere was suspended last year, she was accused of keeping a backlog of 28 outstanding judgments. She denied the charges and argued that out of 17 judges she was being singled out for victimisation.
In her defence before the tribunal, she said: “I completed all my work within the three-month period as required and did not have 28 outstanding reviews and six reserved judgments on May 18, 2020 as alleged. The tribunal must provide the evidence in the form of names and case numbers.”
She added “I was singled out for victimisation out of a list of 17 judges with outstanding judgments, even though I had no outstanding judgments on the date I was charged and suspended.”
The suspension of Justice Ndewere last year raised eyebrows after she was accused of “misconduct and conduct inconsistent with being a judicial officer” by the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC), three weeks after she granted Sikhala bail in a case in which he is facing charges of inciting public violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption.
Meanwhile, Ndewere is facing charges of breach of Judicial Code of Ethics Regulations Statutory Instrument 107/2012 in particular section 19(1).
“That contrary to your duties and professional calling as a judge, you incompetently performed your duties when on several occasions and despite several requests and warnings from your superiors you failed to deliver reserved judgments within the prescribed 90 days in breach of Judicial Code of Ethics Regulations Statutory Instrument 107/2012 in particular section 19(1) thereof, thereby failing to meet the expected judicial standards of a judge in the following cases as indicated on the attached table,” the charge sheet read.
Justice Ndewere’s ruling on the Sikhala case was not popular with many Zanu PF elites, prompting observers to suspect that the bail judgement was the real motive behind her persecution by the Zanu PF administration.
In her judgement, Ndewere castigated the Magistrates Court for denying Sikhala bail saying; “clearly the misdirection by the lower court was so astonishing.”
Speaking soon after the “landmark” ruling, Sikhala said, “that judgement is going to be one of the greatest judgements delivered in our country. It’s going to be reported even in foreign law reports.”