Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
PROSECUTOR-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi yesterday said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had launched a blitz on corrupt stakeholders in the justice delivery system – and lawyers topped the list of those under investigations.
In an interview, Mr Kumbirai Hodzi said some judicial officers and prosecutors were also subjects of investigations.
“There are investigations in progress from the lower courts to the highest courts. Judicial officers, prosecutors and lawyers are under investigation.
“But the most heinous corruption is emanating from legal practitioners. Legal practitioners are dominating the list,” said Mr Hodzi.
He said lawyers faced charges including gross unprofessional conduct, including theft of trust funds, corrupt transfer of property and extortion.
“Some even wrote letters extorting money from clients, which is a criminal offence,” he said.
Mr Hodzi said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had made progress in the fight against corruption. “We have made tremendous inroads in the fight against graft in the justice delivery system. We received complaints from people alleging justice is being bought at the courts and we are acting on that information.
“We want to ensure that people have full confidence in the justice system,” said Mr Hodzi.
He said with police assistance they were also in the process of flushing out bad apples within the NPA. “We have carried out internal investigations, together with the police. Dockets were compiled in respect of the very bad apples in the NPA and they will be arrested,” said Mr Hodzi.
Mr Hodzi was on Wednesday confirmed as the substantive head of prosecution.He was sworn into office by President Mnangagwa at State House.
President Mnangagwa has declared zero tolerance to corruption and the effective prosecution of high profile corruption cases became NPA’s top priority.
On his appointment as Acting PG last year, Mr Hodzi co-opted a team of prosecutors known as the “Special Anti-Corruption Unit” to strengthen the NPA and to improve the quality of prosecution.
The officers have compiled dockets which saw the number of convictions in high profile corruption cases increasing towards the end of 2018. More arrests were also registered courtesy of the merger and teamwork.
For complex corruption cases, Mr Hodzi appoints a team of three prosecutors for each case to ensure continuity and efficient prosecution.
The special unit was wrongly perceived to be a parallel prosecuting authority controlled and directed by President Mnangagwa.
However, Mr Hodzi set the record straight explaining the operations of the unit.
“The special anti-corruption unit was established in terms of the NPA Act which gives me the authority to appoint prosecutors or personnel to the NPA after consultation with the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. I am the one who gives the special unit its work and I direct the team on how to do it.
“I exercised my mandate under the NPA Act, to appoint all the officers of the unit as prosecutors. I, as the Acting PG, allocate work to the team and they do not report to any other authorities, including the President, said Mr Hodzi.
“For their day-to-day activities, they are integrated as NPA officers and they report to the PG daily, who directs them as to the nature of their work,” said Mr Hodzi.
Mr Hodzi said he was the one who crafted the special unit’s terms of reference and drafted a concept paper for the operations of the unit.
Mr Hodzi’s appointment as substantive PG followed the resignation of Advocate Ray Goba last year.
Adv Goba resigned after he was suspended from office on a raft of allegations of misconduct such as failing to prosecute high-profile cases, travelling without Cabinet authority and use of abusive language.