Jacob Manzunzu

From Pindula
Jacob Manzunzu
BornJacob Manzunzu
EducationUniversity of Zimbabwe
Occupation
  • Lawyer
Known forBeing a lawyer.

Jacob Manzunzu is a Zimbabwean lawyer and former Deputy Registrar of the High Court. He also served as the Deputy Sheriff of the Botswana High Court and interviewed to be a judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe in 2014. He was appointed Judge of High Court in December 2017 by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He has been accused and tried for fraud and corruption, and has recently presided over some high profile cases involving powerful, connected figures and major current events in Zimbabwe.

School / Education

1999 – LLb (Hons), University of Zimbabwe.
[1]

Career

Manzunzu is a former Registrar and Sheriff of the High Court of Zimbabwe and former Deputy Registrar of the Botswana High Court. He was one of the 46 candidates who took part in the interviews for the six vacant posts of the judges of the High Court held between October and November 2014.[2] While being interviewed Manzunzu said he had helped the Botswana government to establish a law school where he was still a director.[3] Manzunzu performed well in the interview but had one glitch when he wilted under intense questioning by the commissioners about his role in a case involving Standard Chartered Bank and the attachment of some property. Manzunzu, in response, said that the matter happened when he had left the office and was not involved.[4]

In July 2017, he was among the 8 people shortlisted to attend public interviews for the post of Prosecutor General.[5] He was however appointed Judge of the High Court in December 2017 by president Mnangagwa after having been interviewed by the Judicial Services Commision.


Events

In 2011, Jacob Manzunzo, then Deputy Registrar of the High Court of Botswana, appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court facing allegations of corruption and fraud. He allegedly committed the offence between 2000 and 2003 while working for the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as the Registrar and Sherriff of the High Court of Zimbabwe. Manzunzu was responsible for authorizing auctions at the High Court.
Manzunzu reportedly fraudulently auctioned one Joy Manyimo’s house without her knowledge. He allegedly bought one of two houses under a controversial sale and connived with three other accused, one of whom bought the second house. The quartet, purported as if the bank had identified the house for auctioning, resulting in which the house was sold by the High Court without the owner’s knowledge. According to the state, the value of the house is equivalent to US$ 151 500.He was not asked to plead and was granted a US$ 2000 bail and remanded to October 19 for routine remand. A police report was made leading to the arrest of the trio in 2003 while Manzunzu, who had relocated to Botswana, was arrested on 12 September 2011. [6]

In November 2014, Jacob Manzunzu, was served with court papers by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) ordering him to appear at the High Court to defend an earlier acquittal on a fraud charge. This concerned the buying of a property belonging to one Joy Sibongile Manyimo. house number 3 at Rosedean Gardens, Ashdown Park, the property having allegedly been fraudulently acquired leading to Manyimo’s eviction from the house by the court. Manyimo reported the matter to police, but when the trial was conducted at the Magistrates Court, Manzunzu was acquitted. The State appealed against the acquittal leading to the pending review proceedings in the High Court.
Earlier on, during the interviews, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku asked Manzunzu to explain how he left the country. “You said you left the country purely for economic reason. I do not know whether you are aware or not that there are rumours that you had problems with the law?” To which Manzunzu replied, “In fact the prosecution was quite malicious. I was brought before the court on the basis that I was the head of the sheriff’s office. I allowed myself to go through the court process and was acquitted.” He was tried in July 2012 on charges of corruption but was acquitted at the close of the State case.
Jacob Manzunzu was in Harare as one 46 candidates who were invited to attend interviews for the six vacant posts of judges of the High Court. About 11 candidates appeared before the panel on the same day as Manzunzu, bringing the total number of the interviewed prospective judges to 35. The last candidates will be interviewed today. [7] [8] [9]

On 31 October 2014, Manzunzu was served with summons by officials from the Prosecutor- General’s Office after the Judicial Service Commission interviewed him for six vacant posts at the High Court. He was summoned to appear in court on charges of fraud emanating from alleged underhand dealings while he was working there as Deputy Registrar of the High Court.

Manzunzu was tried in July 2012 on charges of corruption for fraudulently auctioning a house belonging to Ms. Sibongile Manyimo, but was acquitted at the close of the State case. He was charged with two counts of corruption and fraud involving more than $150 000. He allegedly committed the offence between 2000 and 2003 while he was still working in Zimbabwe as the Registrar and Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Zimbabwe.[10]

In July 2015, the High Court threw out a National Prosecuting Authority application for review of the proceedings leading to the lawyer’s acquittal on charges of fraud and corruption. The State cited as respondent failed to appear in court to argue the matter before Justice Lavender Makoni. Justice Makoni, after reading documents filed in the record and hearing submissions from Manzunzu’s lawyer Jonas Dondo dismissed the application with costs. The State had applied for a review of the trial magistrate’s decision to acquit Manzunzu. The State’s main reason in the application was that the trial magistrate Clever Tsikwa committed gross irregularities in the proceedings leading to Manzunzu’s acquittal.

It cited the refusal by the trial magistrate to briefly adjourn for three hours to allow a witness to look for documents the witness intended to refer to for purposes of the trial, as a miscarriage of justice.

Tsikwa turned down the request saying “to imagine the witness will look for a document within two hours, which document could not be located in the period of three months is fiction.” The request was therefore dismissed and the trial went on and Manzunzu was eventually acquitted. The NPA was sought that the entire proceedings be squashed and a fresh trial commenced. But Manzunzu's lawyer in opposing the matter argued that the application was filed out of time. He said the rules required that such an application be filed within eight weeks. In this case, the application was made almost 28 weeks after the date of judgment. He also argued that the application was devoid of merit because there were no gross irregularities.[2]

In June 2019, Robert Gumbura and colleagues approached The High Court with an application for stay of proceedings. This was dismissed by Jacob Manzunzu. Gumbura had approached the court seeking permanent stay of his trial awaiting a ruling on his application for review against a Harare Magistrate, Francis Mapfumo. Mapfumo dismissed Gumbura’s application for discharge at the close of State’s case saying there is reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed.
Robert Gumbura, a cleric, is serving a 40-year jail term for rape, is jointly charged with Blessing Chiduke, Luckmore Matambanadzo, Lucky Mhungu, Taurai Dodzo, Thomas Chacha and Elijah Vhumbunu for attempting to escape from Chikurubi Maximum Prison. Francis Mapfumo said the seven should explain why they went on rooftops if they were protesting over food issues on the day in question. He also said during an inspection at the prison, he witnessed some ropes made of torn blankets and drilling on rooftops which showed that an escape was planned. [11]

In April 2020, Justice Manzunzu ordered millionaire businessman Frank Buyanga to return his five-year-old son to the boy’s mother within 24 hours, or face contempt charges, thus granting an interim order sought by Chantelle Muteswa, who was involved in a long-running and bitter custody battle with her ex-boyfriend.
Buyanga had temporary access of his son since July last year until March 11 this year when he alleged Muteswa abducted him from his school in Harare in March. Buyanga’s lawyers had sought to torpedo the High Court proceedings by writing to the court to say that the African Medallion Group millionaire had left the country, and the jurisdiction of the court. IN addition, Buyanga claimed Manzunzu had previously shown bias against him, that the judge had been compromised by improper contacts with members of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s family, notably his son, Collins, who is allegedly in a romantic relationship with Muteswa. [12]

In April 2020, Justice Manzunzu granted bail to Lovemore Zvokusekwa after he was detained in prison for allegedly peddling falsehoods about the extension of the duration of the national lockdown period. Zvokusekwa, Thomas Machinga and Cecil Mutsvandiani, were arrested on 18 April 2020 for allegedly peddling falsehoods. Zvokusekwa was represented by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. [13]

In April 2020, Justice Jacob Manzunzu ordered police and all state security commanders to clearly communicate to their subordinates, the validity of the Zimbabwe Media Commission’s (ZMC) 2019 media accreditation cards. This order was given after freelance journalist Panashe Makufa and the Media Institute of South Africa (MISA) had gone to court to challenge the state security agents to stop the harassment of journalists going about their lawful duties. ZMC is still to issue accreditation cards for 2020 while government has sanctioned the use of 2019 cards. Justice Manzunzu also dismissed the state’s argument only journalists attached to state broadcaster ZBC were regarded essential. Chris Mhike who represented Makufa and MISA, said there was no way the fight against Covid-19 could be won without media involvement. [14]


References

  1. Jacob Manzunzu, LinkedIn, published: No Date Given, retrieved: July 26, 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 Fidelis Munyoro,Botswana High Court Registrar wins case, Herald, published: July 22, 2015, retrieved: July 26, 2017
  3. Charles Laiton,Aspiring Judge nabbed, NewsDay, published: November 4, 2014, retrieved: July 26, 2017,
  4. Paidamoyo Muzulu, 6 more find judges interviews too hot to handle, NewsDay, published: October 28, 2016, retrieved: July 26, 2017
  5. Tarisai Machakaire,Eight vie for Tomana job, Daily News, published: July 24, 2017, retrieved: July 25, 2017,
  6. Botswana High Court Registrar faces fraud, corruption charges in Zimbabwe, Sunday Standard, Published: 18 September 2011, Retrieved: 7 May 2020
  7. Aspiring judge ‘nabbed’, Newsday, Published: 4 November 2014, Retrieved: 7 May 2020
  8. Aspiring judge arrested in city, The Herald, Published: 1 November 2014, Retrieved: 7 May 2020
  9. Botswana silent on Manzunzu fraud charges, Mmegi, Published: September 2011, Retrieved: 7 May 2020
  10. Fidelis Munyoro,Aspiring Judge arrested in the city, Herald, published: November 1, 2014, retrieved: July 26, 2017
  11. Gumbura’s efforts to block trial hit snag, New Zimbabwe, Published: 17 June 2019, Retrieved: 7 May 2020
  12. Corruption-accused judge orders Buyanga to return son to ex-girlfriend, ZimLive, Published: 16 April 2020, Retrieved: 7 May 2020
  13. High Court Sets Free Man Imprisoned Over “Fake” Mnangagwa Covid-19 National Lockdown Extension Statement, Kubatana, Published: 30 April 2020, Retrieved: 7 May 2020
  14. Court orders police to accept 2019 media cards, New Zimbabwe, Published: 20 April 2020, Retrieved: 7 May 2020