Fidelis Munyoro, Harare Bureau
National Prosecuting Authority attorneys yesterday went on strike protesting over poor working conditions and operational challenges resulting in the disruption of proceedings at the superior and magistrate’s courts.
The prosecutors handed a petition to the Prosecutor-General (PG)’s Office in which they raised a wide range of issues affecting their operations including complaints over recent arrest of colleagues over alleged abuse of office.
Edmore Nyazamba and Tinashe Kasema were arrested and appeared in court charged with criminal abuse of office as public officers.
The prosecutors claimed that they were not being protected from the decisions they make in the course of their duties.
“If anything they are being persecuted for exercising their legal minds,” read the petition.
“Before a prosecutor is arrested, internal remedies must be exhausted first before criminal allegations are laid on the prosecutors.”
They also pleaded for protection by the organisation from intimidation by “any powers that be”.
The Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) was not spared for allegedly abusing their office.
In the petition, the prosecutors complained that they allegedly were getting a lot of instructions from the SACU, yet in terms of the NPA Act, they both have delegated authority from the PG.
The prosecutors also want the chief prosecutors, as the NPA internal advocates, to take a leading role in prosecuting all complex and sensitive matters in all courts.
Also highlighted in the in the 14-page petition is the issue of housing and vehicle loans. They said most of them do not own houses and are tenants despite being in the organisation for many years, some up to 20 years.
“Justice is likely to be compromised as their landlords may at any time be litigants before the criminal courts and most prosecutors are being reported to the rent board for failing to pay rentals which are now paid in USD,” it said.
Most prosecutors, the petition said, relied on public transport, which they argue poses a high risk to their lives.
Other issues being raised include health care, training and lack of resources for researching on cases in the ever changing world of law.
At the High Court yesterday, Justice Tawanda Chitapi, was forced to abandon the bail applications hearing after prosecutors failed to show up.
At least 41 bail applications had been set for hearing. At Harare magistrates’ courts, the case of ex-minister Ignatius Chombo was deferred after the prosecutor dealing with the matter did not turn up.
The PG, Mr Kumbirai Hodzi, could not be reached for comment.