Former High Court judge Erica Ndewere

Fired High Court judge Erica Ndewere wants her job back

FIRED High Court judge Erica Ndewere is seeking to be reinstated as a judge and has filed an application seeking President Mnangagwa to reverse his decision to fire her.

Ndewere is seeking for a review of the recommendations by the three-member tribunal that led to her being fired from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Ndewere was fired by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on June 17, 2021, but she claims that her dismissal was part of victimisation after she defied Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s “unlawful orders”.

She is accusing the Justice Simbi Mubako-led tribunal of being extremely biased and grossly incompetent when it found her guilty of misconduct.

In the application, Ndewere cited Mnangagwa and the three tribunal members, Justice Mubako, lawyer Charles Warara and Yvonne Masvora, who made recommendations for her removal from the bench, as respondents.

Ndewere, who is being represented by lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, argued that the tribunal members failed to provide her with all the documents used to nail her, thus violating her right to a fair trial.

She also stated that all the tribunal members did not have jurisdiction to sit for her inquiry after May 18, 2021 when its term of office had expired, hence their recommendation to Mnangagwa after the date were null and void.

Ndewere said the respondents failed to apply their minds on issues before them.

“Having claimed to have given the applicant all fair hearing rights in the report, that the second, third and fourth respondents’ conduct of denying the applicant the right to be heard on an appropriate penalty before sending a dismissal recommendation to the first respondent amounts to a gross irregularity that vitiates their recommendations and the first respondent’s subsequent decision.”

Ndewere argues that the conduct of the tribunal was irregular because it sought evidence outside the hearing which was supposed to be in public domain and it made recommendations to the President before she was given an opportunity to defend herself.

“Apart from the report being full of emotive and injudicious language, whenever reference was being made to me and my legal practitioners’ actions, the report shows an extremely biased analysis of the witnesses’ evidence where glaring deficiencies were glossed over or not mentioned at all,” she submitted.

Ndewere was suspended last November after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) accused her of “misconduct and conduct inconsistent with being a judicial officer,” prompting President Mnangagwa to appoint a three-member panel to investigate.

Weeks earlier, the judge had earned praise and scorn alike after granting MDC Alliance deputy chairperson Job Sikhala bail following his arrest on allegations of inciting violence.

The JSC, led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, said Ndewere had failed to “deliver reserved judgments within the prescribed 90 days… thereby failing to meet the expected judicial standards of a judge.”

It also accused her of failing to apply due diligence when she reversed a custodial sentence of a thief, Kenneth Majecha, saying the convicting magistrate should have considered community service as punishment because the accused was a first-time wrongdoer when in fact Majecha was a repeat offender with three prior convictions.

Ndewere became the second judge to be fired by President Mnangagwa after Supreme Court judge Justice Francis Bere who was relieved of his duties last October for “gross misconduct.”

Meanwhile, the review of the Simbi Mubako tribunal’s recommendations by the High Court is yet to be set down. □

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