Former Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa has been ordered to surrender two official vehicles in his possession following his recent sacking for gross misconduct by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In a letter addressed to Mabhikwa, dated 12 April 2021, Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza directed the former judge to return to a Land Rover Discovery and Mercedes Benz he was using during his time on the High Court bench. Wrote Gwaunza:
… you are required within two weeks of the date of this letter, to surrender to the Registrar of the High Court the motor vehicles in your possession being a Land Rover Discovery 5 AES 8243 and Mercedes Benz E300 AFK 6148.
You can retain the Ipad, Laptop. Cellphone and mobile line given to you, subject to it being converted into a private line.
Mnangagwa fired Mabhikwa after a three-member tribunal he had appointed to investigate the judge’s suitability to continue serving on the bench recommended his removal from office.
Justice Mabhikwa was charged with alleged misconduct, sexual harassment and possessing pornographic material.
The tribunal was made up of Retired Justice Maphios Cheda who was appointed chair, Chaka Mashoko and Phillipa Magnify Phillips as members, while Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Virginia Mabiza its secretary.
The setting up of the tribunal followed an investigation by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) into the alleged love affair between Mabhikwa and Oratile Nare, an assistant to Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva.
Nare allegedly became jealous after she saw the messages and nudes sent to a rival by Mabhikwa.
Out of anger, she reportedly forwarded Mabhikwa’s messages with the other woman to almost all his contacts, including a judges’ group.
This prompted the JSC to start investigating the judge and recommending that the President set up a tribunal to determine whether the judge could continue serving on the bench or not.
According to the JSC code of conduct, it is unethical for a boss and a subordinate to engage in an affair.