Last month Justice Samuel Kudya, who heard an Urgent Chamber Application filed by Maguwu’s lawyer, Denford Halimani granted an order sought by the human rights lawyer directing state security agents to immediately return the diamond rights researcher’s property which they seized at the Harare International Airport where Maguwu intended to board a flight to Ireland.
The property included an Hp 625 laptop, power pack, wallet, Olympus digital camera, US$2 000, business cards and bank cards, personal notebooks, airline boarding passes, travel insurance, accommodation bookings, laptop bag and all its contents. The High Court Judge also ordered the State security agents to desist and stop interfering with Maguwu’s freedom of movement, association, right to property and protection of the law.
The order was granted against the Minister of State Security in the President’s Office, which oversees the operations of State security agents, the co-Ministers of Home Affairs, the Chief Immigration Officer, the Minister of Transport, Communication and Infrastructure Development, who were all represented by Mr Dodo of the Attorney’s General’s Civil Division. The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe was represented by lawyers from Chirimuuta and Partners Legal Practitioners.
But in a move which smacks of contempt of court, Dodo recently wrote to Maguwu’s lawyer advising him that his clients namely would not be complying with Justice Kudya’s court order.
“The respondents afore-mentioned cannot comply with the interim relief granted by the learned judge, and would be unable to so even if they wanted to, because they simply do not have the items of property referred to in the interim order and know nothing about them whatsoever,” reads part of Dodo’s letter.
Although Dodo attempted to deny responsibility for the seizure of Maguwu’s property, he confessed that state security agents who are some of his clients had “lawfully took only two reports” from the rights researcher.
However, in response to the AG’s office letter, Maguwu’s lawyer, Halimani, who is a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, warned that legal consequences would visit the AG’s office and their clients as he was preparing to file contempt of court charges.
“We are utterly shocked that your clients have wilfully and maliciously chosen not to comply with the High Court’s interim Court order in terms of which they were ordered to immediately return the items unlawfully seized from our client,” wrote Halimani in his letter.
Halimani said such contempt should not go unpunished.
“A person who disobeys an order of Court is in contempt and may be punished therefore. The contents of your letter unmistakably indicate a deliberate intention to flagrantly defy and disregard the interim Court order granted by the Honourable Justice Kudya,” said Halimani.
“In fact, as we write this response, your clients are already in contempt of Court as none of them have complied with the order more than 12 days after the order was granted and served upon them. In the circumstances, you cannot expect us to sit and do nothing as if we tolerate such a blatant contempt of Court especially as our client continues to suffer unjustified prejudice as a result of the unlawful deprivation of his property,” he added.