- Justice Ndewere has denied the allegations of gross incompetence, and maintained that she was being victimised by Chief Justice Luke Malaba for refusing to accept his unlawful instructions to deny bail to MDC Alliance vice- chairperson Job Sikhala and former Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira.
HIGH Court registrar Donald Ndirowei gave evidence before a tribunal headed by retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako, which was tasked to investigate and recommend whether or not suspended judge Justice Erica Ndewere was still suitable to sit on the bench following allegations of incompetence levelled against her.
Justice Ndewere stands accused of failing to complete and submit written judgments on time, a charge she denies.
Ndirowei’s evidence pertained to allegations that Justice Ndewere failed to give reasons why she refused to give bail to an accused person, Tapson Nyowani, and also failed to give written reasons for the appeal for bail in the Supreme Court.
In his evidence, Ndirowei admitted that Justice Ndewere had requested him by telephone on November 27 last year to collect from her home the written judgment for Nyowani for typing as she was on suspension.
When Justice Ndewere’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa asked him why he did not pick the judgment from Justice Ndewere’s home, Ndirowei said it was because he had already finished writing his witness statement against the judge.
Justice Mubako then further asked him to give a good reason why he failed to assist the Supreme Court to do its work.
Ndirowei said his understanding was that High Court staff should not deal with any person who has been suspended from work.
Justice Ndewere has denied the allegations of gross incompetence, and maintained that she was being victimised by Chief Justice Luke Malaba for refusing to accept his unlawful instructions to deny bail to MDC Alliance vice- chairperson Job Sikhala and former Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira.
Justice Ndewere asked the tribunal to explain how Nyowani’s issue was smuggled onto the charge sheet on December 8, 2020, long after the tribunal had been sworn in.
She said she had followed the practice direction for bail judgments, as no judge provided written judgments for bail unless it was requested by the Supreme Court.
She said after her salary and benefits were restored, including her driver, she then sent him to deliver the judgment for typing and had it filed as judgment No HH788/20 on December 7, 2020.
She told the tribunal that she was not informed of the new charge, and had a right to be heard before being punished.
Justice Ndewere further argued that the charge was not authorised by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and was not covered by the terms of reference of Proclamation No 7 which was gazetted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 5, 2020.
She said the charge was, therefore, unlawful and should be struck off the charge sheet.
Justice Ndewere also submitted that the tribunal secretary Virginia Mabhiza, who is also the Justice ministry secretary, had no legal authority to generate new charges that were not authorised by the JSC.
Earlier, she had demanded that Mabhiza be removed from the tribunal secretariat to allow for separation of power among arms of the State as she represented the Executive .
The tribunal hearing continues today. ■