President Emmerson Mnangagwa has removed Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa from the office of a Judge for acts of gross misconduct.
A three-member tribunal that was appointed by Mnangagwa 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 is the secretary for the tribunal.
In a letter addressed to Chief Justice Luke Malaba dated 11 April 2022, the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda said the removal of Justice Mabhikwa from the office of Judge of the High Court was with immediate effect. He wrote:
The Tribunal which was inquiring into the question of removal from office of Honourable Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa in terms of 187 (3) of the Constitution has completed its work.
The Tribunal has reported its findings to His Excellency, the President, Cde Dr E.D Mnangagwa, and has recommended that Honourable Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa be removed from the office of a Judge for acts of gross misconduct.
Accordingly, His Excellency the President, acting in terms of Section 187 (8) of the Constitution, has removed the Honourable Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa from the office of Judge of the High Court with immediate effect.
The setting up of the tribunal followed an investigation by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) into the alleged love affair between Justice 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 Justice Mabhikwa.
Out of anger, she reportedly forwarded Justice 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.