Grace PhD saga falls apart
The High Court has, for the second time this year, declined to grant the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission (Zacc) an order to search the University of Zimbabwe (UZ)’s offices with a view to seize documents and information pertaining to former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s PhD degree.
Early last month, Zacc obtained a warrant of search and seizure from the magistrates’ court after which it proceeded to the tertiary institution with a view to conduct the search, but the UZ approached the court challenging Zacc’s conduct and the warrant was then nullified by Justice Lavender Makoni on February 16.
Undeterred, Zacc last week obtained yet another warrant of search and seizure, claiming it had properly obtained the same, but the UZ, through its registrar, Noah Ariel Mutongoreni, approached the High Court challenging the new warrant.
On March 12, High Court judge Justice Alpheus Chitakunye ruled in favour of the UZ. “The warrant of search and seizure issued to the first and second respondents [Zacc and investigating officer Detective Sergeant Richard Machinya] by the third respondent [Harare magistrate] be and is, hereby, set aside for being null and void and of no force and effect,” Justice Chitakunye said, adding “the first and second respondents shall pay applicant’s (UZ) costs of suit on the ordinary scale.”
In his affidavit deposed on behalf of the tertiary institution, Mutongoreni said he had once again approached the court seeking an order declaring the new warrant of search and seizure null and void, adding it had been illegally obtained.
However, in response to the application, Zacc secretary Silence Pondo said the search and seizure warrant which had been granted by a Harare magistrate was valid and fully compliant with the provisions of the law, which position was again not upheld by the court.
Machinya had also deposed to his affidavit, saying the matter, which is under investigation, related to the names, Ntombizodwa Grace Mugabe and Ntombizodwa Grace Marufu, hence, the reason why the anti-graft body was seeking the warrant of search and seizure to get to the bottom of the matter.