BY STAFF REPORTER
FORMER High Court judge Justice Michael Gillespie has died. Gillespie succumbed to cancer on April 28 and will be buried on May 31 at Southdowns Natural Burial Ground in the United Kingdom.
Gillespie was forced to quit the bench in 2001 following a sustained political assault on the judiciary. He was one of the judges who resisted State capture and politicisation of the judiciary after the late President Robert Mugabe started packing the courts with alleged government sympathisers while manipulating court rolls.
Some of the judges forced off the bench included Justices James Devittie, David Bartlett, Esmael Chatikobo and former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay.
Gillespie’s wife, Sandra wrote in a short biography: “Gillespie will be remembered fondly and with great respect by those who knew him in the legal profession in Zimbabwe as a lawyer of the first rank who, when appropriate, leavened the serious business of law with a gentle and witty sense of humour.
“Michael’s retirement was spent with family. Aware of his cancer (diagnosed in 2018), every opportunity was taken to create treasured memories together…Michael died peacefully at home with his wife and both daughters by his side. He was more concerned for their sadness than the end of his life.”
State pressure on the judiciary under Mugabe began when the government defied court rulings that declared illegal the 2000 farm invasions illegal.
The ruling against farm seizures was followed by an invasion of the Supreme Court itself, with militants storming the courtrooms calling for the immediate expulsion of judges