Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Aspiring judge, Jacob Manzunzu is now a relieved man after the High Court threw out a National Prosecuting Authority application for review of the proceedings leading to the lawyer’s acquittal on charges of fraud and corruption three years ago.
Manzunzu is a former Registrar and Sheriff of the High Court of Zimbabwe and former Deputy Registrar of the Botswana High Court.
He was one of the 46 candidates who took part in the interviews for the six vacant posts of the judges of the High Court held in November last year.
His day was spoiled after the State ambushed him at the venue and served him with court papers ordering him to appear at the High Court to defend an earlier acquittal on the two charges.
Manzunzu was last week vindicated after the State cited as respondent failed to appear in court to argue the matter before Justice Lavender Makoni.
Justice Makoni, after reading documents filed in the record and hearing submissions from Manzunzu’s lawyer Mr Jonas Dondo of Dondo and Partners, threw out the application.
“The application be and is hereby dismissed with costs,” ruled Justice Makoni.
The State had applied for review of the trial magistrate’s decision to acquit Manzunzu.
The State’s main reason in the application was that the trial magistrate Mr Clever Tsikwa committed gross irregularities in the proceedings leading to Manzunzu’s acquittal.
It cited the refusal by the trial magistrate to briefly adjourn for three hours to allow a witness to look for documents the witness intended to refer to for purposes of the trial, as miscarriage of justice.
Mr Tsikwa turned down the request saying “to imagine the witness will look for a document within two hours, which document could not be located in the period of three months is fiction.”
The request was therefore dismissed and the trial went on and Manzunzu was eventually acquitted.
The NPA was now seeking that the entire proceedings be quashed and a fresh trial commenced.
But Mr Dondo in opposing the matter argued that the application was filed out of time.
He said the rules required that such an application be filed within eight weeks. In this case, the application was made almost 28 weeks after the date of judgment.
He also argued that the application was devoid of merit because there were no gross irregularities.
“The magistrate exercised his discretion properly and his decision was fair,” said Mr Dondo.
During the interviews, Manzunzu performed well but his reputation was tested after members of the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, questioned his integrity.
Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba dropped the bombshell when he asked Manzunzu to comment on his alleged misconduct that had been referred to the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ).
In the case, Manzunzu was alleged to have facilitated the buying of a property belonging to one Joy Sibongile Manyimo.
The property had allegedly been fraudulently acquired leading to Manyimo’s eviction from the house by the court.
Manyimo reported the matter to the police, but after a full trial, Manzunzu was acquitted.
Dissatisfied with the decision, the State approached the High Court for review of proceedings.