HARARE – High Court judge November Mtshiya has given Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo a 14-day ultimatum to facilitate the reimbursement of $78 900 seized from a Mutare businessman by the police following the man’s 2008 arrest on theft charges.
Mtshiya made the ruling following Tendai Blessing Mangwiro’s application for mandamus, demanding Chombo to act in terms of his duties and facilitate the release of his money.
Mangwiro, who was cleared of the theft charges in 2012, said that since an order for the re-imbursement of the money was given over a year ago, Chombo has not acted in terms of the directive.
However, Mtshiya on Wednesday ruled that Chombo must comply with the court order and act in terms of his statutory duty cast upon him in Section 5 (2) of the State Liabilities Act (Chapter 8:14).
“The respondent (Chombo) is ordered and directed to comply with the order . . . within 14 days of this order having been served on him, or his (permanent) secretary, or any responsible person in his ministry, failing which, the respondent be and is hereby declared to be in contempt of this order,” Mtshiya said, before further ordering Chombo to pay cost of the suit.
In his court papers, Mangwiro said that the police seized his money and wrongly released it to the then complainant Andrea Nsaka Nsaka.
While, an order for the refund of the $78 900 was given in February last year, Mangwiro has not yet received the money.
“…it is respondent (Chombo)’s failure as the minister of Home Affairs to comply with the statutory duty on him . . . which prompted me to make this application . . .,” Mangwiro said.
He accused Chombo of misleading his lawyers, following several communications, where the minister claimed, “all necessary arrangements have been made to request and pay the amounts due to your client as granted by the court”.
Mangwiro said Chombo as the nominal defendant and Home Affairs minister had an obligation to have the money paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“I implore this honourable court to hold the respondent as a public servant to be personally held liable for not complying with the honourable court’s order because he has failed or neglected to perform a mandatory duty which is cast upon him by the statute because the statute has set him as an agent of the legislature,” Mangwiro said.