Humiliatingly dethroned former Kwekwe magistrate Story Rushambwa (48), together with his subordinate and ex-Clerk of Court Bright Mpiyabo (45), who both face charges of criminal abuse of office, yesterday appeared in court, as their trial resumed at the Gweru magistrates’ court.
Rushambwa and Mpiyabo who pleaded not guilty to the charges being leveled against them, appeared before Gokwe regional magistrate Taurai Manwere, and they are expected to reappear at the courts today for the resumption of their trial.
The pair is being accused of criminally facilitating for the release of a stolen vehicle to controversy-ridden Kwekwe businessman, Shepherd Tundiya.
They are currently out on $2 000 bail each.
Early this year, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) suspended the then Kwekwe magistrate and his clerk of court in the pursuit of facilitating investigations in a matter which also sucked in Zanu PF politician and former Kwekwe deputy mayor, John Mapurazi.
Upon completion of the investigations, the JSC dismissed Rushambwa on June 1, this year.
The state alleges that sometime in October 2019, a deployment of the police anti-corruption unit impounded a Toyota Hilux from Mapurazi and took it as an exhibit amid allegations that the vehicle was fraudulently imported into Zimbabwe.
It is understood that the vehicle was then handed over to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) for customs management.
On December 27 last year,Mapurazi, who is also a miner, is then said to have made an ex parte application seeking the release of the impounded vehicle and it was then that Rushambwa and Mpiyabo reportedly connived to order the release of the vehicle to the former Zanu PF councilor.
On his part, Mpiyabo is said to have deliberately withheld the record to allow for the return of Rushambwa who was on leave, so that the now discredited magistrate could preside over the matter, upon his return.
Mpiyabo is said to have then placed the record before Rushambwa, who presided over the matter in Mapurazi’s absence. Shockingly, despite him not being a legal practitioner, Tundiya represented the Zanu PF politician in his absence.
Under these questionable circumstances, the then magistrate went on to grant the order for the ‘stolen’ Toyota Hilux to be released to Mapurazi, thereby favoring the former deputy mayor.
The same case has also resulted in the conviction of the ex-officer-in-charge for Gweru CID, Detective Inspector Leonard Gwandu.
The later was found guilty of abuse of office and slapped with a three-year jail sentence.