ZACC arrests magistrate, judicial officers

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5 mins read

Brenna Matendere

Harare—The Zimbabwe’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has made three arrests of judicial officials, among them a Murewa magistrate, for alleged bribery, fraud and impersonation.

Simiso Mlevu, the ZACC spokesperson, confirmed the arrests.

“ZACC has arrested Mureha magistrate, Terence Mashaire, on allegations of receiving bribes from litigants in matters he was presiding over. ZACC has also arrested Shane Kubonera, a former magistrate, and Allan Nhamo Bhasvi, on allegations of fraud and impersonation.

“Allan Bhasvi was arrested for purporting to be a principal protocol officer to His Excellency (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) and conniving with Kubonera to defraud a victim of USD$10, 000 in exchange for the facilitation of a farm, farming equipment and access to His Excellency,” she said.

Takudzwa Marlon Muza, a Judicial Service Commission (JSC) technician in Harare, has also been arrested for allegedly receiving a US$350 bribe to facilitate a favourable judgment for a litigant in a matter before the High Court.

The arrests are part of ZACC’s efforts to curb corruption in the judiciary and other public institutions.

Recently the JSC opened investigations into reports of corruption and abuse of office by the Kadoma Messenger of Court, Otten Tsogolani, after a Kwekwe man accused him of a litany of charges which include stock theft and conducting an irregular auction.

In a formal complaint to JSC, Denford Matinha of Mbizo suburb said Mutsvaba deliberately deviated from the specifications of a court order to advance his personal interest.

Matinha said the Kadoma magistrates’ court issued an order against him and declared that property worth US$ 1, 365 be attached, and this translated to seven cattle.

However, Mutsvaba, in enforcing the order, went to Matinha’s homestead in the latter’s absence and attached the seven cattle and an additional three beasts before holding a secret auction to dispose of all of them.

The Zimbabwean judiciary is considered to be among the most corrupt institutions. Magistrates and prosecutors have often been reported to receive bribes to manipulate criminal and civil cases including destroying court records, while higher court judges are perceived to be captured by the political and business elites.

A 2018 Justice Delivery Sector survey by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) singled out prosecutors as extremely corrupt.

The report was released amidst simmering concerns over the slow pace at which prosecution was handling criminal cases.

The ZACC—which has failed in its bid to have prosecuting powers—was particularly worried that the courts were not securing convictions on scores of cases that it had submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), accusing prosecutors of deliberately opting to prefer wrong or weak charges, resulting in unfair acquittals.

“The magistrates court was singled out by lawyers as the institution where corruption is prevalent, with prosecutors, clerks of court, registry staff, and other support staff being labelled the most corrupt,” the LSZ report noted.

“All the lawyers who participated in the survey indicated that prosecutors were the most corrupt officials in criminal proceedings,” it added.

The LSZ also complained that powerful individuals were unduly interfering with the courts to cause the unjust arrest and prosecution of their foes.

In 2022, a Kwekwe resident magistrate, Story Rushwambwa and a court clerk, Bright Mpiyabo, were jailed 15 months and 9 months, respectively, for fraudulently releasing an impounded vehicle, also following ZACC arrests.

In March last year, the then Karoi provincial magistrate, Felix Chauromwe, was given two years for irregularly releasing three Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) officers—one of who he was related to—who had  arrested for alleged criminal abuse of office.

The Transparency International perception index on corruption for 2023 places Zimbabwe amongst the three most corrupt countries in Southern Africa.