BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
SUSPENDED High Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere , yesterday gave evidence to the retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako-led tribunal investigating her suitability to sit on the bench, claiming that Judicial Service Commission (JSC) staff members were spying on judges.
Justice Ndewere was suspended on November 5 last year for allegedly failing to complete 28 reviews and eight reserved judgments by May 18, 2020.
She was also accused of failing to properly read and consider a record of proceedings in the case of the State v Kenneth Majecha CRB MDP 79/19, resulting in her issuing a query in the form of a review minute which quashed the jail sentence and substituted it with an order of community service.
Justice Ndewere said JSC staffers circumvented Judge President George Chiweshe by directly reporting to Chief Justice (CJ) Luke Malaba about the conduct of judges.
Justice Ndewere was responding to questions from her lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa in her evidence-in-chief to the tribunal.
She also claimed that she was suspended on November 5, the same day that the CJ ordered her to complete writing the judgment on Tapson Nyowani’s case by November 16.
Justice Ndewere told the tribunal that the charge on Majecha was fabricated by JSC workers who were spying on her in a clandestine investigation.
She denied the charge, and said she agreed with the magistrate and “confirmed” the imprisonment of Majecha.
She also told the tribunal that Majecha served his full term and the State was not prejudiced by any judicial decision she took.
Justice Ndewere also told the tribunal that after that she was threatened with investigation for refusing to obey an unlawful order by the CJ.
She said she did not know that she was actually under clandestine surveillance until after six months, when support staff intercepted her court files and gave them to CJ Malaba.
Justice Ndewere said the registrar of the High Court, Donald Ndirowei picked a genuine error on Majecha’s sentence on October 23, 2019 and took the file to the CJ instead of bringing it to her attention or the Judge President.
However, before the CJ approached her, she corrected the mistake and confirmed the judgment on November 28 2019 with the agreement of two other judges.
Justice Ndewere told the tribunal that there was no legal reason for Ndirowei to hand over court files clandestinely to the CJ who does not supervise High Court judges. The hearing adjourned to May 4 when both parties will give their closing arguments.
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