A State witness in the trial of former chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe yesterday dismissed as unfounded claims that he and others made up charges against him as a way of hitting back after he admonished them for sexually harassing female members of staff, including magistrates.
Judicial Service Commission (JSC) deputy secretary Mr Sithembinkosi Msipa was the second State witness to give testimony in the case before Justice Felistus Chatukuta.
Lead defence counsel Mr Jonathan Samukange put it to him that he had a personal vendetta against his client.
“You want him punished,” he said. “That is why you came to give false evidence,” said Mr Samukange, adding that Mr Msipa wanted to neutralise allegations that those in the commission were abusing women and funds by paying themselves huge amounts at the expense of magistrates.
Mr Msipa said he was aware of the allegations, which he said went viral in the media and various social media platforms, but said because the defence had raised the matter of character, he was forced to comment on Guvamombe’s character.
“Now that the issue of character is before the court, I am forced to also comment on it,” said Mr Msipa, telling Justice Chatukuta that it was Guvamombe who was going through difficult times and pointing to marital and infidelity problems.
He said at one point, Guvamombe’s wife approached Chief Justice Luke Malaba and made a complaint against her husband about his infidelity and had a scuffle with his girlfriend at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts.
“I have nothing to worry about these allegations,” said Mr Msipa.
“It is him who has something to worry about. I was not there when his wife complained to the Chief Justice about his infidelity, I was not there when his girlfriend dragged him at the Magistrates’ Court over money and claimed they both authored the said document.”
Mr Msipa said the magistrates, whose names were mentioned, even wrote a petition to the Chief Justice complaining that their reputation was being soiled by a faceless character and this was affecting their families.
Earlier on, Mr Elisha Singano, now Bulawayo regional magistrate, testified in the ongoing trial about the attachment as interns of former ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira and former Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who were both studying law at the University of Zimbabwe and had their names on the list for attachment at the court.
He had spoken with Guvamombe who advised him that he would take the matter up with the JSC.
They discussed the legal implications of accepting the two, given their status as accused persons and given the possibility of the two suing the JSC for refusal of internship.
Mr Singano said they agreed to deploy the two former ministers to the magistrates’ civil courts away from the criminal courts at Rotten Row, since that was where they were appearing facing criminal charges.
“After some days, the accused called me to immediately withdraw the two students from the attachment,” said Mr Singano.
Under cross-examination from Mr Samukange, Mr Singano said there was no legal bar to prevent Mandiwanzira and Kasukuwere from being deployed at the Magistrates’ Court.
Guvamombe is also facing charges of defeating the course of justice after he allegedly directed a subordinate, Mr Elijah Makomo, to recuse himself in a trial involving his alleged business partner’s son. The trial continues today.