Police magistrates rejected

SECURITY forces, seconded to the National Prosecuting Authority to ease the shortage of prosecutors in the country’s courts, face the axe after an application seeking to disengage them from the courts was heard at the Constitutional Court yesterday.

CHARLES LAITON
SENIOR COURT REPORTER

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, who headed the nine-member bench, reserved judgment in the matter after submissions were made by Prosecutor General (PG)’s representative, Sharon Fero and the applicant’s lawyer, advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara.

Justice Chidyausiku took the PG’s office to task in order to explain why it wanted its job to be done by police officers.

“Why do you want the police to do your job?

“We in the judiciary do not want to have police officers as magistrates.

“Give us one good reason why we should have police prosecutors as opposed to civilian prosecutors.

“In principle I do not see the reason why the PG would want his job done by police.”

Responding to the questions, Fero said the practice of engaging security forces as public prosecutors had been in existence since time-immemorial, arguing the reason was unattractive condition of service.

“The use of security forces in not a new phenomenon, the practice has been in existence since time-immemorial,” she said.

“The reason was that there were not many applications for the job because of unattractive conditions of service, while some individuals did not want to work outside Harare.”

Fero further said there were no provisions in the Constitution that precluded security forces from being engaged as prosecutors.

The application seeking to compel the PG Johannes Tomana and the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, to phase out the use of the police and army personnel as public prosecutors, was filed by the Zimbabwe Law Officers Association’ and former public prosecutor, Derek Charamba.

In his submissions on behalf of the applicants, Zhuwarara said the use of the security forces in performing prosecutorial duties in civilian courts was in violation of Section 208(4) of the Constitution.

“Engagement of police and army officers to prosecute in civilian courts is wrong,” Zhuwarara argued.

“This practice cannot be condoned, tolerated or excused in a democratic society.

“The mechanics of birthing a public prosecutor are different from those put in place to bring about a police officer or an army officer . . . they (police and army prosecutors) are part of the security system and cannot be engaged in civilian institutions since, they are bound by specific rules of discipline.”

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