HARARE – The body of ex-Namibian Chief Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe — who passed on in Windhoek on May 10 — is expected to leave by plane tomorrow, officials said.
Mutambanengwe’s body will be flown to Harare for burial after his death at Paramount Hospital in Windhoek due to renal failure, according to Justice Rita Makarau, who said it “will be repatriated with assistance of the Namibian government”.
The release of the body by Namibia has already been arranged to secure the late 87-year-old jurist’s return back home where his remains will be interred.
After Mutambanengwe officially retired from the Zimbabwean bench, he was appointed to the Namibian High Court in 1994 and went on to serve the Namibian Supreme Court until he resigned on health reasons.
A Zanu secretary for Foreign Affairs during the liberation struggle, he was appointed chairperson of the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (Zec) in 2010, but subsequently resigned.
He resigned from active judiciary duties in Namibia in February 2013, shortly before a scheduled referendum on a new Constitution for Zimbabwe.
Mutambanengwe continued to serve the high courts of Zimbabwe and Namibia from retirement, particularly in the later where he was on several times acting judge of appeal.
The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) tendered its condolences to the Mutambanengwe family at his untimely death.
“The news of the passing on of the late Justice Mutambanengwe is yet another painful blow to a Judiciary that is still trying to come to terms with the passing on of the late former chief justice, the honourable G G Chidyausiku,” JSC said in a statement.
Prominent Harare lawyer Jonathan Samkange described the late judge as “a great teacher”.
ZimRights director Okay Machisa said the death of former High Court judge has left a void in the judicial system of the country which will be very difficult to fill.
“His judgments were not pushed or swayed by politics but instead were premised on what the Constitution said and upon proper legal reasoning,” he said.
“Some of his controversial rulings on the land reform exposed the government, which it did not like, since the issue was at the centre of things. He was a legal and constitutional man. Even his resignation from Zec must have been because he was too principled to work under the control of politics and unprofessionalism,” Machisa said.
He is survived by his wife Juliana and three children and mourners are gathered at Number 36 Wallis Road in Mandara, Harare.