- Scandal sucks in lawyers, interpreters, prosecutors and magistrates
- National Prosecuting Authority accused of sitting on dockets
- Zacc says delay in prosecuting affects its operations
THE justice delivery system has been hit by allegations of corruption amid reports that cartels are running the show and in the process stifling efforts to bring culprits to book, the Zim Morning Post can reveal.
The reports of massive corruption within the judiciary service system come at a time when Zimbabwe has witnessed a surge in corruption reports from government entities.
The Zim Morning Post managed to speak to various key stakeholders in the justice delivery system who all confirmed “Justice is being sold to the highest bidder.”
This publication also managed to engage some inmates who are out on bail and testified that during their incarceration some prison guards asked them to look for money so that their cases could be heard by their preferred magistrates.
Corruption in remand prison
Investigations by this publication reveal that inmates awaiting bail rulings are asked to source for money so that their cases can be heard by preferred magistrates who will quickly grant them bail.
“I had tried to apply for bail while in remand without success,” said one inmate who is now on bail pending appeal.
“After several attempts I was asked to give them (prison guards) US$200 so that they can connect me to a lawyer as well as a magistrate who will preside over the issue.“
“When my wife visited I told her to sell our fridge so that the issue can be resolved. She did that but only got US$150 which we had to use. It worked because after a week I was told that my bail had been granted.“
Corruption in the lower courts
Investigations also revealed that a syndicate in the lower courts is frustrating the justice delivery system.
“When an accused is going to the courts, the case first goes for vetting where the prosecutor and the arresting officer can agree on how much the person has so that the case can be properly handled,” opined one lawyer.
“The arresting officer will then give the money to the prosecutor who will in turn take the money to the magistrate.”
“Where the lawyers are involved the issue becomes easier because lawyers go directly to the magistrates.“
The National Prosecuting Authority: Where dockets are microwaved
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has also been sucked into the scam where dockets are allegedly “doctored” so that the cases are weakened.
“The NPA doctors some dockets and in the end cases are weaker resulting in the miscarriage of justice. NPA is currently fighting even with the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission over the way they have handled some cases,” the source said.
“High profile cases are watered down such that the magistrate is left with no option but to grant bail.“
During public hearings to fill the vacant post of the prosecutor general, the then acting PG, Kumbirai Hodzi, revealed that cartels are in charge of the judiciary delivery system.
Hodzi told the panel that “the judiciary was under undue influence from a cartel made up of lawyers, judges, police and the media, all hellbent on influencing its work.“
“There has been an erosion of professionalism by a few lawyers who are very corrupt. There are a few officers who have been captured in the NPA, in the judiciary, the police and even the registry. They operate as a cartel,” he said.
Zacc sources also told the Zim Morning Post that the NPA is currently sitting on a number of cases awaiting prosecution.
“The dockets are gathering dust at the NPA awaiting prosecution. This is why the Zacc chairperson has been saying our institution should be given prosecuting powers,” said the source.
In a recent interview the Zacc boss Loice Matanda Moyo said her organisation was working on over 600 dockets for prosecution of people accused of corruption including judges, ministers, Members of Parliament and company executives.
“Zacc investigates and then sends the papers to the NPA, but the Attorney-General is being brought on board to help fight corruption. We are bringing on board as many people as possible,” she said adding: “There should be convictions in court, but we need prosecution (NPA) to up their game.”
In an interview with the Zim Morning Post, on Thursday, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi confirmed that there are indeed “rumours” of corruption within the justice delivery system.
“We are hearing those things but the government has clear policy on fighting corruption which is based on zero tolerance to corruption,” Ziyambi Ziyambi said.
“Where cases of corruption are reported and officials are found on the wrong side, the law will deal ruthlessly with them irrespective of the office one is holding. It matters not that you are a lawyer, prosecutor or judicial officer,” Ziyambi warned.-zimmorningpost