Spotlight on lawyers and abductees as they appear in court on charges of obstruction of justice

A RECORD number of Zimbabwean lawyers were scheduled to appear at Harare Magistrates Court on Friday 10 July 2020 answering to charges of
defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section
184(1)(d) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act following
their arrest in June.

The lawyers namely Advocate Thabani Mpofu, Tapiwa Makanza and Joshua
Chirambwe were arrested in early June in a period in which Zimbabwe
Republic Police members swooped on legal practitioners for conducting
their professional duties.

First to be arrested on Monday 1 June 2020, was Advocate Mpofu, who is
represented by Beatrice Mtetwa and Raymond Moyo of Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights (ZLHR), who was charged with committing various
offences including defeating or obstructing the course of justice as
defined in section 184(1)(d) of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act alternatively, fraud as defined in section 136 of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and alternatively perjury
as defined in section 183(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act.

Advocate Mpofu, who is out of custody on RTGS$20 000 bail, was also
charged with corruptly concealing a transaction from a principal as
defined in section 172(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act.

On Count 1, which is a charge of corruptly concealing a transaction
from a principal as defined in section 172(1)(b) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act, prosecutor Michael Reza of the National
Prosecuting Authority alleged that the 38 year-old Advocate Mpofu
connived with Everson Samukange, who was a Professional Assistant at
Venturas & Samukange Legal Practitioners in 2017, to divert a contract
entered into between Senziwani Sikhosana, the Managing Director of
Access Finance and Venturas & Samukange Legal Practitioners, wherein
Everson Samukange would represent Sikhosana in an undisclosed civil
matter.

Reza alleged that Everson Samukange received US$6 000, which was
deposited into his Standard Chartered Bank account from Sikhosana
through Access Finance which he later conveyed to Advocate Mpofu.

On Count 2, which is a charge of defeating or obstructing the course
of justice as defined in section 184(1)(d) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act, Reza alleged that in January 2019,
Advocate Mpofu attempted to defeat the course of justice by conniving
with Tapiwa Makanza and Advocate Choice Damiso to draft an affidavit
in the name of Simbarashe Zuze, who is non-existent, to purport as if
Zuze had sworn an affidavit before Advocate Damiso with the aid of
Makanza, who professed to be his lawyer.

Advocate Mpofu, Reza said, went on to lodge the said affidavit at the
Constitutional Court before Justice Paddington Garwe bearing only the
name of Simbarashe Zuze without any other identification details under
case number CCZ03/2019 to purport as if Zuze was challenging the
appointment of Kumbirai Hodzi as Prosecutor-General.

By so doing, Reza charged, Advocate Mpofu, Makanza and Advocate Damiso
intended to cause the Constitutional Court to nullify Hodzi’s
appointment as Prosecutor-General on the basis of a fictitious person
who did not have the necessary locus standi.

The application seeking to nullify Hodzi’s appointment as
Prosecutor-General, Reza said, was struck off the Constitutional Court
roll on suspicion that it could be fictitious and did not meet some
set standards.

On Count 3, which is a charge of defeating or obstructing the course
of justice as defined in section 184(1)(d) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act or alternatively perjury as defined in
section 183(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act,
Reza alleged that Advocate Mpofu, Chirambwe and Lawman Chimuriwo
connived on 7 February 2019 to obstruct any investigations into the
existence of Zuze after noting that Zuze’s application had been
dismissed.

The trio, Reza said, plagiarised the contents of the affidavit
purported to have been made by Zuze and created, with those contents,
another affidavit in the name of Chirambwe before filing another
application at the Constitutional Court under CCZ04/19.

Reza said by filing an application on behalf of Chirambwe with the
full knowledge that Zuze’s statement in his application had been
challenged by Judicial Service Commission Secretary Walter Chikwana on
the basis that Zuze did not exist, Advocate Mpofu intended to defeat
and obstruct the course of justice.

Another lawyer, Makanza, who was arrested by ZRP members on Sunday 7
June 2020, will also appear at Harare Magistrates Court after he was
charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined
in section 184(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Act.

Makanza, who is represented by Paidamoyo Saurombe of ZLHR, is accused
by prosecutors of creating a fictitious person Simbarashe Zuze, who is
the person who in January 2019 filed an application in the
Constitutional Court challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s
appointment of Kumbirai Hodzi as Prosecutor-General as he did not
score high marks during interviews conducted by Judicial Service
Commission.

The 38 year-old Makanza is out of custody on RTGS$20 000 bail.

Another lawyer, Chirambwe, who is out of custody on RTGS$20 000 bail,
will also appear at Harare Magistrates Court after he was arrested and
charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined
in section 184(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Act.

The 28 year-old Chirambwe, who is represented by Obey Shava of ZLHR,
is accused of conniving with Advocate Mpofu to obstruct any
investigations into the existence of Zuze upon realising that the
initial application tendered by Advocate Mpofu in the Constitutional
Court was struck off the court’s roll on 6 February 2020.

Also appearing at Harare Magistrates Court are Harare West legislator
Hon. Joanah Mamombe and MDC-Alliance party Youth Assembly leaders
Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, who are victims of abduction and
torture and who were arrested by ZRP members on 11 June 2020 and
charged with publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial
to the state as defined in section 31(a)(ii) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act and publishing or communicating false
statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31(a)(iii)
of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. The trio was also
charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined
in section 184(1)(f) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Act.

Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova, who are represented by Alec
Muchadehama, Jeremiah Bamu, Tinomuda Shoko and Roselyn Hanzi of ZLHR, went missing on 13 May 2020, when they were abducted in Harare by some unidentified people and were later found on 15 May 2020 after being dumped in Bindura in Mashonaland Central province.

They have already been charged with committing public violence after
they were arrested on 26 May 2020 for allegedly participating in an
anti-government protest against hunger during the national lockdown
period as defined in section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act and for contravening section 5(3) (a) as read with section
5(1) of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 of Public Health (COVID-19
Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020
and will stand trial in August.