Judge recuses self


BULAWAYO High Court judge Thompson Mabhikwa has recused himself from the matter involving Harare lawyer Admire Rubaya and eight others involving gold theft following allegations raised against his conduct.

Rubaya filed a criminal complaint against the judge for allegedly abusing his public office after he ordered his “unjustified” 10-day incarceration by revoking his bail in June.

The Harare lawyer wrote to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and the police on July 28 calling for a probe and arrest of Mabhikwa.

Additionally, Rubaya, who has expressed his intention to sue Mabhikwa for damages he suffered pursuant to the detention, also wrote to the Judicial Service Commission, which regulates the conduct of judges, to investigate the judge’s conduct.

On Friday, Justice Mabhikwa said it was in the interest of justice for him to recuse himself from the case which is set for trial continuation on September 8.

“The deputy registrar at the High Court of Zimbabwe at Bulawayo Station brought to my attention a matter filed by the applicant Mr Admire Rubaya wherein I am cited as a respondent.

“I have read and understood the founding affidavit and the relief sought therein. The veracity of the allegations contained in the affidavit are vehemently denied in Toto. No reasonable person should have ground for suspecting that justice will not be administered.

“It is for these reasons that I have … decided to recuse myself from the criminal trial involving the applicant and 8 others,” the judge said.

Rubaya is jointly charged with Chaganda, who reportedly died early this year, the magistrate who tried the case at Plumtree, Timeon Makunde, prosecutor Stanley Chinyanganya as well as Dingumuzi Ncube, Tyson Ruvando, Godfrey Makuvadze, Ladislous Tamboonei and Ladislous Tinacho, who is in charge of the ZRP Minerals and Border Control Plumtree.

In his complaint to Zacc and the police, Rubaya alleged that on June 23, in the company of his co-accused, he appeared before Mabhikwa for a pre-arranged remand hearing.

He said he was shocked when Mabhikwa first stood down the case and when the court was reconvened, the judge said circumstances had changed and revoked their bail and remanded them in custody.

In his application for leave to sue the judge, Rubaya said he intends to sue Mabhikwa for up to $1 million dollars if his application succeeds.

“The procedure adopted by the respondent is completely alien to law… It was adopted not in the pursuit of the ends of justice or the due discharge of function. It was instead adopted capriciously, without just cause,” Rubaya said in his affidavit.

Rubaya was only released from Khami remand prison after approaching the Supreme Court, which chastised Mabhikwa’s decision to revoke his bail.

Supreme Court judge Nicholas Mathonsi had no kind words for Mabhikwa and ruled that his decision to revoke Rubaya’s bail was trivial under the circumstances.

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