TWO witnesses from the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) who testified in the trial of corruption-accused former chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe, yesterday gave contradicting accounts on the procedure used when admitting law students for work-related learning.
Guvamombe is answering to charges of criminal abuse of office and obstructing the course of justice before High Court judge Justice Felicia Chatukuta relating to alleged illegal awarding of attachment to ex-ministers Supa Mandiwanzira and Saviour Kasukuwere at Harare Magistrates’ Courts at a time they had pending criminal cases there.
Prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi opened the State case by leading evidence on second count, which involved Kasukuwere and Mandiwanzira after he failed to avail to Guvamombe’s lawyer Jonathan Samukange a record of proceedings of a JSC tribunal that previously cleared his client on the matters.
In the first count Guvamombe is accused of allegedly exerting pressure on magistrate Elijah Makomo to recuse himself from a case that involved his friend’s son.
Mabhaudhi’s first witness was Elisha Singano, who was the provincial magistrate at the material time, and he testified that universities would always send requests for students’ attachment to the chief magistrate. The requests, he said, would be forwarded to his office for further management.
Singano said after noting that the list of University of Zimbabwe students included Kasukuwere and Mandiwanzira, he alerted Guvamombe before the matter was escalated to JSC and a resolution was made for the ex-ministers not to be attached at Rotten Row courts, but the civil court.
Singano added that since law students were required to have civil and criminal experiences, Kasukuwere and Mandiwanzira would then be sent to criminal courts outside Harare.
He said during discussions on the issue with Guvamombe, he said he would call JSC deputy secretary Sithembinkosi Msipa to engage him. He could not divulge further details about the phone calls between Guvamombe and Msipa since it would be hearsay evidence.
He said days after deploying Kasukuwere and Mandiwanzira another directive came for him to expel them and he complied.
However, when Msipa testified he professed ignorance about the issue and said he only realised that the JSC had granted attachment to Kasukuwere and Mandiwanzira through the media.
He told the court that he never followed up on the issue adding that all work-related learning issues were handled by his office then as the acting secretary for JSC.
“I could not do anything about it since they had already been placed on attachment…I also learnt about their withdrawal through the media. I was never consulted and I have no formal communication that was made to me regarding that issue,” Msipa said.
Msipa said he did not have anything against Guvamombe, but felt sorry for him because he was entangled in a catalogue of issues that involved his wife and an alleged lover.
The trial continues today.