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Senior army officer fears unfair trial over fraud charges

ZIMBABWE National Army (ZNA) Captain John Mambewu says he wants his $37 000 fraud case tried at the High Court instead of being heard at a court martial

ZIMBABWE National Army (ZNA) Captain John Mambewu says he wants his $37 000 fraud case tried at the High Court instead of being heard at a court martial where he fears receiving unfair trial.


This was revealed in court papers under case number HC 2007/14, in which Mambewu cited Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, ZNA Commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda and ZNA’s judge advocate as respondents.

Mambewu, who is the officer commanding database administration at ZNA’s Information Technology Directorate, is accused of defrauding the army of $37 406 in an alleged salary scam.

Through his lawyers Mugiya and Macharaga Law Chambers, Mambewu, who is also a war veteran and has been in the army for 36 years, claims he would not receive a fair trial if the matter is conducted by the defence forces.

“I later learnt that the respondents intend to charge me on the allegations that I unlawfully deducted money from all employees’ salaries in the Zimbabwe National Army including the respondents and all personnel who constitute the court martial,” Mambewu said in an affidavit attached to the application.

“I am advised, which advice I accept that in terms of section 69 of the Constitution, I am entitled to a fair, speedy and public hearing by an independent and impartial court, tribunal or any forum established law, which I am definite that I will not find in casu (in this case).

“. . . I have no doubt in my mind that if the court martial proceeds there are no ways I would receive a fair trial and clearly this matter raises serious conflict of interest. I will definitely be condemned and my fears are genuine.”

According to the court papers, Mambewu claims he was arrested on February 14 and detained at Harare Remand Prison without charge.

He was only released after filing an urgent chamber application under case number HC 1807/14 which was granted in his favour and released on March 7.

However, Mambewu argues the respondents did not comply with the court ruling, prompting him to lodge a second urgent chamber application (HC 2007/14) to compel the army to comply with the initial court ruling.

Mambewu further said upon his release from custody, the respondents rushed him to the court martial with the intention of remanding him in custody.

“It took my lawyers’ swift reaction to rush and block the respondents’ contemptuous behaviour . . . This did not please the respondents who actually promised to deal with me effectively. I have no doubt that my life will be in danger especially after the respondents threatened me even before I am put to trial,” he said.

Mambewu said his trial was pre-determined but said he had no problem being tried by any other court established by law other than the court martial which is “constituted and composed by the respondents who are also complainants in the same matter”.

He wants the High Court to order the ZNA to engage the Judicial Service Commission to constitute a court which shall be regarded as a court martial and proceed in terms of the Defence Act.

According to the court papers, the allegations against Mambewu are that, in December last year he manipulated the ZNA’s salary schedule and unlawfully deducted US$2 from each of the 6 380 members who access their salaries through Central African Building Society (CABS).