“The Chief Justice does not have the authority to direct the Judicial Service Commission to attend to any complaint against a sitting judge of the High Court,” reads Justice Erica Ndewere’s letter dated September 30, 2020.
The Judicial Service Commission has officially confirmed that the Chief Justice Luke Malaba is the one behind the suspension of the High Court Judge who granted the Zengeza MP Job Sikhala.
The revelations came out as the JSC sought to clarify that in all the deliberations and decisions relating to the allegations against Justice Erica Ndewere by the commission, Chief Justice Luke Malaba and the Judge President George Chiweshe did not participate because they were involved in the initial investigations on the allegations made against the judge.
The develooment comes as a journalist who refused to be named narrated the High Court Case fracas saying,
“I remember on the day when the hearing for Job Sikhala’s bail appeal in the High Court was to be heard, we were shuffled from one Court to another until we were told that the bail hearing by the Judge will be heard their arguments from lawyers of Job Sikhala and prosecutors in Court J.
The Judge opted for Court J instead of the usual bail court F because she wanted a Court with recorders. The bail hearing scheduled to commence at 14:15 hrs started late around 15:30hrs. Everyone was worried on the cause of the inordinate delay.
“When the matter started the Court room was full and journalists had to stand in the corridor to follow proceedings. After arguments by lawyers from both sides Justice Ndewere went back to her office.
“We noticed strange things happening and we whispered among ourselves as journalists about, who the people who followed Justice Ndewere to her offices. We later understood that these were not ordinary people. They were state security agents from Munhumutapa Building, who we gathered threatened Justice Ndewere on the dire consequences if she dare grant Job Sikhala bail.
“They went to show her some documents outlining her transgressions during her tenure as a judge, some of them ridiculous to contemplate or believe. They alleged that she used her Assistant to write judgements on her behalf and that they will come for her if she grants Job Sikhala bail.ht
“We wanted to break the news but my Editor told us that the story might jeopardize Job Sikhala’s chances of getting bail. We left it there.
“Again something strange happened: the Judge hesitated to give her ruling on the bail appeal for a period spanning a week and a half. Bail judgements are generally given immediately after arguments by lawyers and prosecutors, but Job Sikhala’s bail ruling was delivered after one and half weeks. This should have attracted the inquisitive mind of Zimbabweans.
“On the day of the bail ruling, Justice Ndewere announced that she will deliver her judgment at 1400hrs. People who came were directed to go to Court A, the largest Court room at the High Court. The Court was full to the gallery by the time announced for the ruling. All Job Sikhala’s family, friends and colleagues were waiting for the judgement only for another inordinate delay to take place. The Judge invited Job Sikhala’s lawyers and the state public prosecutor to come to her office. They came back and told everyone to wait as the judge was finishing editing her judgment putting comas and full stops. People had to wait until 16:46hrs for the Judge to enter the Courtroom. From her first sentence to the last full stop she was castigating the police and the Magistrate who heard the matter at Rotten Row for serious misdirections committed.
It could be noticed that the Judge was hiding her judgment from uninvited external forces. After the delivery of her judgment we obtained information that, she received a telephone call from the Chief Justice Malaba who shouted at her over her judgment. Her life was never the same since then. She became a loner at the Court hounded by the threats thrown at her by the Chief Justice Malaba.”
In their response however, the JSC said:
“The synopsis of events given shows that there is no connection between the two decisions by the JSC and that of the judge in Sikhala’s matter,” said the JSC.
Through her lawyers, Sawyer and Mkushi Legal Practitioners, Justice Ndewere wrote to the JSC responding to the allegations.
She referred to Sections 163(2) and 163(3) of the Constitution, arguing that the Judge President (Justice Chiweshe) was in charge of the High Court, while the Chief Justice was in charge of the Supreme Court.
She said JSC did not have the legal authority to deal with complaints raised against her.
“We direct your attention to Statutory Instrument 107 of 2012 and the provisions contained therein.
“The Chief Justice does not have the authority to direct the Judicial Service Commission to attend to any complaint against a sitting judge of the High Court,” read the letter dated September 30, 2020.
She implored the Chief Justice to follow laid down procedures for dealing with complaints against a sitting judge.
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