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Zimbabwe's first Chief Justice dies

by Ndou Paul
24 Feb 2017 at 09:16hrs | Views
Zimbabwe's first Chief Justice John Fieldsend has died at the age of 95.

Justice Fieldsend died on Wednesday after a long and courageous fight against lung cancer.

Chief Justice Fieldsend was appointed for a fixed term and assumed office on 1 July 1980. Born in England, Sir John (as he later became) was brought up in Southern Rhodesia. After graduating in law he practised as an advocate in Bulawayo. In 1962 he was appointed a judge of the High Court, but resigned in 1968 in protest against the decision of the Appellate Court to grant judicial recognition to the government of Ian Smith. He returned to Britain, where for the next twelve years he served in the office of the Lord Chancellor.

During the tenure of office of Chief Justice Fieldsend the main area of conflict between the judiciary and the executive involved cases of detention without trial; that is, a deprivation of liberty permitted, subject to certain conditions, under the law of Zimbabwe, during a declared period of public emergency. The state of emergency, which had been declared by the Smith government at its unilateral declaration of independence on 11 November 1965, and
extended repeatedly every six months, was kept in force by the new government for ten years.

Chief Justice Fieldsend was unwavering in standing up for human rights and respect for the rule of law and the Judiciary during his tenure provided a bulwark of stability in the country.


Former Education minister David Coltart wrote on his facebook wall.

Below is the full message:

I am very sorry to report that Zimbabwe's first Chief Judge, Justice John Fieldsend died last night at the age of 95 after a long and courageous fight against lung cancer. Justice Fieldsend was an extraordinarily fine Judge and was largely responsible for establishing Zimbabwe's judiciary as one the Commonwealth's finest institutions.

Chief Justice Fieldsend was appointed for a fixed term and assumed office on 1 July 1980. Born in England, Sir John (as he later became) was brought up in Southern Rhodesia. After graduating in law he practised as an advocate in Bulawayo. In 1962 he was appointed a judge of the High Court, but resigned in 1968 in protest against the decision of the Appellate Court to grant judicial recognition to the government of Ian Smith. He returned to Britain, where for the next twelve years he served in the office of the Lord Chancellor.

During the tenure of office of Chief Justice Fieldsend the main area of conflict between the judiciary and the executive involved cases of detention without trial; that is, a deprivation of liberty permitted, subject to certain conditions, under the law of Zimbabwe, during a declared period of public emergency. The state of emergency, which had been declared by the Smith government at its unilateral declaration of independence on 11 November 1965, and
extended repeatedly every six months, was kept in force by the new government for ten years.

Chief Justice Fieldsend was unwavering in standing up for human rights and respect for the rule of law and the Judiciary during his tenure provided a bulwark of stability in the country.

Judges of this calibre are rare, especially in Zimbabwe since the subversion of the judiciary by the ZANU PF regime since 2001. My hope is that lawyers will reflect on the exceptionally high standards set by Judge Fieldsend, both professionally and in his private life, and be inspired by them. Judge Fieldsend was a man of absolute integrity; a Judge who could be relied upon to act honourably at all times and to scrupulously ensure that justice was done at all times. He will be sorely missed. May his soul rest in peace.


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Source - Byo24News
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