Magistrate refuses to step down from Mamombe case

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Joanna Mamombe

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
THE presiding magistrate Faith Mushure in a matter where Harare West MP Joana Mamombe (Citizens Coalition for Change) and opposition activist Cecilia Chimbiri (CCC) are accused of falsehoods yesterday refused to recuse herself from the matter.

Mushure had been asked to recuse herself by the duo’s lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Jeremiah Bhamu citing bias towards their clients.

One of the witnesses in the matter, Venenzia Muchenje was also issued with a warrant of arrest after failing to attend court to testify.

Muchadehama said the accused person had made five court applications and all were dismissed by Mushure.  He said a judicial officer must be fair.

“We make this application grounded on three principles firstly on the principle of natural justice, and then secondly on the grounds that every person has a right to a fair trial, and finally that the judiciary must be fair and not biased,” Muchadehama said.

He said Mushure has been systematically showing bias during the proceedings which is not in the interest of justice.

“On December 29 last year, you dismissed an application that was before you and in your ruling you mentioned that the issue was tribal and up to now you have not indicated how it affected the case. Your worship on January 14,   you dismissed the application for exception and again on these two applications in your review it could not be explained by any means how the applications failed to contain legal grounding where one can conclude that it was biased against the accused persons,” Muchadehama submitted.

He further said on March 15, Mushure dismissed the accused person’s request for referral to the Constitutional Court.

“She further dismissed the evidence of a flash disk which was presented before her by the defence mentioning that it has no merits on the legal basis.”

But the state represented by prosecutor Michael Reza opposed the application saying the application saying it was just a delaying tactic.

“This trial has been fair up to this very minute.  However, it is moving slowly and the blame lays on the defence and the accused persons since they are making some applications you have never heard before. They are using those applications that have no merit and that they obviously know the Supreme Court is going to throw away and this was done for the very reason that is before us today for recusal of the judicial officer,” Reza said.

Mushure dismissed the application for recusal saying the applications are decided by law and not a duty roaster.

“The application is decided by law and not a duty roaster where it is said today it’s you and tomorrow it’s you. The court did not show any bias or interest in the matter. No apprehension of bias was shown,” Mushure ruled.

The matter was then postponed to Tuesday next week for trial continuation.