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Zimbabwe youths rally behind Chief Ndiweni

by Mandla Ndlovu
20 Aug 2019 at 17:16hrs | Views
A section of Zimbabwean youths under the banner of National Youth Development Trust has condemned the arrst and sentencing of Nhlambabaloyi Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni as an act judiciary capture by politicians.
In a statement on Tuesday NYDT said, "The entire case stood on a weak foot and its outcome exposes the porous nature of the judicial system and raises fears of judicial capture. While the organization fully respects the presumed independence of the courts, it is enraged by Magistrate Mushowe's failure to appreciate the importance, relevance and sacred nature of customary courts like the one presided over by Chief Ndiweni in the matter in Question.

"The ruling has the effect of setting a precedent that is likely to result in future disrespect of the decisions of customary courts and ultimately the traditional leadership system, our cultures and customs. Future generations may inherit a weakened and laughable traditional leadership system which will continuously fail to preserve its customs, cultures and traditions."

The organization added that the magistrate failed to understand that the act was done by the Chief in his official capacity.

"The failure by the magistrate to realise that the alleged crime was ‘committed' when the chief was executing his official duties and that in that capacity personal liability does not arise, substantiates claims of the entire case being more political than legal gives credence to claims of Judicial capture by those in power. To add salt to the injury, the ruling seems oblivious of the total cost of the damages arising from the alleged crime. Court papers indicate that the estimated cost of the damages is RTGS $300. 00 which if divided among all the co-accused will translate into RTGS $13.04 per accused person. Even if the chief had admitted to committing the crime, the judgement would still have been unreasonable and any competent magistrate would not have made such a ruling. While every citizen should be treated equally by the law regardless of their position in society, such a ruling is glaringly vindictive and deserves an immediate review.  

"The harsh treatment of the chief is reflected through a tougher sentence compared to his co-accused.  The chief and 22 of his co-accused faced the exact same charges and yet the rest got suspended sentences with the remaining months converted to community service, an option the chief was also entitled to by law as is the case with all civil case sentences of less than two years. However he was the only one subjected to serving the full 18 months behind bars.

"Conflict of interest issues also arose when one of the witnesses, a former Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, already involved in a separate controversial case with the was allowed to testify against him in this case. Mpofu a politician with known dislike for the chief is one of the reasons why this case stinks of political interference and malice."

NYDT said it demands that government opens up the case to a fair and just review process that open to the public and will help restore confidence in the justice delivery system.

"Judicial procedures must never be used as avenues for punishing those who hold different views from those in power. Chiefs as custodians of custom, tradition and culture must be protected when executing their duties.

"Only a peer review mechanism of cases presided over by Chiefs can be deemed fair in overturning their sentences. Existing appeal procedures where they may have mishandled or overstepped must be effectively used. This includes approaching the magistrates court for a review of judgements."

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Source - Byo24News