|Bid to evict prosecutor from Govt house fails|
|Thursday, 07 March 2013 18:44|
THE court has dismissed with cost an appli-cation by the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) to evict two Beitbridge prosecutors from a Government house in the border town to pave way for two local magistrates.
Magistrates and prosecutors in Beitbridge have since last year been locked in an acrimon-ious row over the occupation of the Govern-ment house in the border town prompting the former to engage their employer over the issue.
JSC, which was being represented by Matabeleland South provincial magistrate, Mr Vakayi Douglas Chikwekwe had filed a court application so that they could be granted powers to evict Messrs Muchihwande Sithole and Reason Mutimba from the house at the centre of controversy. JSC last week dragged the two prosecutors to court for defying its directive to vacate the property following the expiry of the eviction order.
The house at the centre of controversy is being occupied by Mr Sithole, who is the prosecutor-in-charge of the Beitbridge station and his colleague, Mr Mutimba.
Last year in November, JSC issued the two prosecutors with a notice to urgently vacate the house they are sharing with two other staff members, to pave way for the two new magistrates who have just been transferred to the border town.
The two magistrates who were reportedly supposed to occupy the house, Ms Gwineth Drawo and Mr Innocent Bepura are renting accommodation elsewhere. They were recently transferred from Marondera and Gwanda respectively to replace Mr Carrington Karidzagundi and Mrs Auxilia Chiumburu.
According to an official letter in the possession of Chronicle, JSC issued an ultimatum ordering Sithole and Mutimba to vacate the house by 31 January.
“Notice is hereby given that you are supposed to vacate the magistrates’ residence you are currently occupying by 31 January 2013. The Judiciary Service Commission would like to renovate the house from 1 February 2013. The house situated on Stand Number 38 Flamboyant Drive, was allocated to the magistrates by the local District Administrator and more so magistrates cannot share the same house with prosecutors and other subordinate staff members for obvious ethical and professional reasons . . .” read part of the letter signed by the Mr Chikwekwe.
In his ruling, Mr Chrispen Mberewere, the magistrate who presided over the matter dismissed JSC’s application, arguing that JSC had no power to evict the two prosecutors since the house belonged to the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.
Mr Mberewere also questioned the applicant’s locus standi.
“The respondents allege that they were also allocated the house together with magistrates. The veracity or otherwise of the claim could only be determined with more evidence than is possible to find in an application.
In his court application, Chikwekwe had alleged that Sithole and Mutimba were illegally occupying Stand Number 38 Flamboyant Road, Beitbridge, arguing that they were neither leaseholders nor supported by any form of documentation warranting their continued unlawful stay at the house.
He further argued that JSC entered an agreement with the local district administrator in 2010 to occupy the house.
The applicant further accused the respondents of deliberately illegally occupying the house despite the expiry of an ultimatum to vacate the property, which he claimed needed to be repaired.
In their founding affidavits, Sithole and Mutimba described the actions by JSC as an “act of self-assertiveness,” adding that they were willing to share the house with the two magistrates.
They further argued that house in question belonged to the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities as opposed to the DA’s office and as a result neither the DA’s Office nor JSC had the powers to evict them.
They also challenged the authenticity of the loan letter agreement, arguing that it was written and signed by an accountant in the DA’s office instead of the DA himself.
Mr Mutimba said the prosecutors occupied the house before the loan agreement was issued, adding that they were sharing the property with the previous magistrates without problems.
The respondents further argued that the local resident magistrate, Ms Gloria Takundwa occupied a full house with a cottage hence she was supposed to share it with her counterparts.
Mr Patrick Tererai of Masawi and Legal Partners represented the respondents.