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Underfire Justice Ndewere frees MDC Alliance activist

BY Richard Muponde UNDERFIRE High Court judge, Justice Erica Ndewere was back on the bench yesterday where she granted $5 000 bail to opposition MDC Alliance activist, Terrence Manjengwa who had been denied bail by the lower court. Manjengwa had spent 56 days in remand prison following his arrest on September 3 after attending party vice-chairperson Job Sikhala’s remand hearing on a charge of incitement to public violence. He was arrested together with fellow party activists Blessed Changara and Barnabas Gura who were granted $5 000 bail on September 24 by magistrate Barbra Maketo. The three were facing charges of contravening COVID-19 lockdown measures and possession of dangerous weapons, but Mateko ruled that Manjengwa had pending cases and was likely to abscond. Majengwa’s lawyer, Kossam Ncube, then approached the High Court on appeal arguing that Mateko misdirected herself by denying him bail. Yesterday, Justice Ndewere upheld Ncube’s submissions and freed Manjengwa. Justice Ndewere ruled that denying Manjengwa bail was a miscarriage of justice. The underfire judge later appeared in fellow High Court judge Justice Foroma’s chambers as an applicant seeking an interim interdict to stop President Emmerson Mnangagwa from setting up a tribunal to investigate her for alleged conduct. The Judicial Service Commission accuses her of conduct unbefitting of a High Court judge, a charge she denies. Some of the allegations levelled against include granting bail to former Cabinet minister Priscah Mupfumira and Sikhala in defiance of a directive given by Chief Justice Luke Malaba. Justice Ndewere has since accused the Chief Justice of interfering with her duties, thus compromising judicial independence. Her case was postponed to Wednesday because Mnangagwa and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi had not filed opposing papers. Justice Foroma gave Mnangagwa and Ziyambi up to Monday to file their opposing papers, and Justice Ndewere to file her heads of argument by Tuesday so he could deliver his verdict the following day. lFollow Richard on Twitter @muponderichard

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