Woes for prosecutors mount
LAWYERS in the Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s (AG) Office have once again come under fire following comments by a High Court judge venting his anger over their casual approach on matters of national importance.
Justice Francis Bere said lawyers from the AG’s Office were failing to treat matters of public importance with the seriousness they deserve after they once again failed to file their heads of argument in a matter involving Sexual Rights Centre and the police.
“I am really worried about the manner in which lawyers from the Civil Division in the AG’s Office conduct themselves especially when it comes to filing heads of argument on serious matters that affect the nation,” said Justice Bere.
The AG’s Office defied a directive issued two weeks ago by Justice Nicholas Mathonsi who ordered them to file heads on behalf of Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Chief Superintendent Fungai Dengu, the officer commanding police in Bulawayo Central District who were cited as respondents in the matter.
Sexual Rights Centre is seeking an order sanctioning a march by its members in commemoration of the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers in December. They also want an order declaring the prohibition of the march by the police a violation of their rights.
In its application through lawyers Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners, Sexual Rights Centre said police had no legal basis to bar its members from staging a march, arguing that the cops’ actions was a violation of their Constitutional rights.
Humphrey Melusi Ndondo, the organisation’s director, in his founding affidavit, said the march sought to bring to the fore the challenges faced by sex workers in the country as they go through their day to day business.
Justice Bere said he was now contemplating roping in the Law Society of Zimbabwe to assist the court by seconding a lawyer to file heads on behalf of the respondents.
‘‘We are considering inviting a friend of the court via the Law Society of Zimbabwe to file the heads,” he said.
Justice Bere postponed the matter to October 6 and directed the registrar of the High Court to order the Civil Division in the AG’s Office to immediately file their heads of argument.
Last Friday, Police Commissioner General Dr Augustine Chihuri has said the Attorney General’s Office has sometimes been found wanting when handling criminal cases, especially following recent violent protests. Last week, the Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba also criticised the AG’s Office for taking a lackadaisical approach when representing the Government.
The Deputy CJ’s censure resonates with many who have raised concern with the AG’s Office in the wake of the botching of several cases where the State lost not on matters of law, but through wilful incompetence of State counsels.
The AG’s Office has on several occasions been slammed for alleged bungling and incompetence which resulted in the Government losing cases unnecessarily. -@mashnets