A HARARE magistrate has accused the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Florence Ziyambi of abusing the courts by bringing a frivolous case against a law officer in the Attorney-General’s Office, which could have been dealt with internally.
In passing judgment in a case in which a senior law officer at the AG’s office, Sibanengi Ncube, was accused of criminal abuse of office recently, Harare Magistrate William Bhila said the case only amounted to misconduct.
“I do not know how this can be elevated to a criminal offence,” said Bhila when acquitting Ncube. “Those who proffer charges like these are abusing this particular section of the code (Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act).”
Ncube was accused of criminal abuse of office when he advised a prosecutor, Tichafa Mabhengere, in Beitbridge to consent to bail in an application by Hardson Mhlanga who was facing kidnapping charges.
In consenting to bail, Ncube argued that Mhlanga was a suitable candidate while Ziyambi disagreed.
Ncube’s defence lawyer, Admire Rubaya of Nyamushaya, Kasuso & Rubaya Legal Practitioners, argued that Ziyambi was abusing the criminal justice system as she sought to legislate her directives to be law to the extent that if one violated them, they would be tried criminally.
Bhila also castigated the witnesses who were brought by the state in the case. Edmore Muzamba, a law officer at the AG’s office, Ziyambi, and Michael Mugabe, former head of the Economic Section in the AG’s office, now stationed in Mutare, were among the witnesses who were called by the state.
Bhila said Muzamba was a “non committed man,” who was “generally unhelpful to the state”.
In their closing submission, the state accused Ncube of trying to undermine the authority of Ziyambi.
“Here we see a law officer who is rebellious to the establishment, in particular the leadership of Mrs Ziyambi as the DPP,” said the state. “Here again we see a law officer who is a law unto himself who defiantly told the court that ‘on the assumption of prosecution, I was to prosecute any case inclusive of entertaining bail application. I have done it several times over.’”
Rubaya accused Ziyambi of lying.
“Once she displays a penchant for lying, it presents this honourable court with a problem of knowing where the lies start and end,” said Rubaya. “It casts her entire evidence in doubt so much that to convict on its basis will be an injustice.”
Rubaya argued it was clear from Ncube’s testimony that there was bad blood between Ziyambi and him.
“The court is urged to frown at such conduct by a person of such authority who for all intents and purposes would leave no stone unturned to have the accused convicted and sing the blues accompanied with a conviction,” argued Rubaya.
From the submissions made by the defence, Ziyambi consulted the Chief Law Officer, Martha Cheda, in the middle of the night and was briefed about the case and came up with a verbal directive to Cheda and the prosecutors at Beitbridge.
Ziyambi alleged that she had also received an anonymous call alleging corruption by Beitbridge prosecutors but investigations yielded no results.
“It boggles one’s mind whether the decision to oppose bail was based on alleged facts as told to the DPP by Mrs Cheda or the opposition to bail was based on the nocturnal anonymous call,” said Rubaya.
“It is clear, it was based on the nocturnal anonymous call because Mabhengere clearly told the court that on the particular day, he had failed to send the state papers to Cheda because the fax was not functional and if the alleged facts from Cheda were as told by Mabhengere to this honourable court then the decision to oppose bail was not based on facts and the law but on the nocturnal anonymous call as put to the witness during cross examination.”