Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has exonerated the Deputy Registrar of the High Court in charge of Bulawayo, Mr Gibson Mandaza, following a letter of complaint by the Affirmative Action Group (AAG).
The letter, written by AAG chief executive officer, Mr Denzel Sita in February this year and addressed to the JSC acting secretary, Mr Walter Chikwana, claimed that Mr Mandaza, in his capacity as a custodian of the law hindered the course of justice.
The AAG accused Mr Mandaza of awarding special treatment to his friends, alleging that in some instances he refused to see clients in need of assistance and allegedly denied them access to files.
He was also accused of harassing litigants and showing a degree of tribal favouritism.
However, in a letter, which The Chronicle is in possession of, the JSC stated that it acknowledged receipt of the AAG letter and conducted its own investigations during which Mr Mandaza was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
In absolving Mr Mandaza, the JSC in its assessment noted that the allegations leveled against its senior official were made “in the heat of anger” without any basis.
“Investigations have been carried out and concluded and the findings are as follows: (i) the trigger was the one incident which occurred during a clean-up campaign (ii) Mr Mandaza, while it is appreciated he was carrying out a national duty, could have handled the situation differently by using his discretion to briefly assist the ladies before the situation degenerated as it did…” read part of the JSC letter signed by the registrar of the High Court, Mrs Faith Mushure, on behalf of the acting secretary of the JSC.
The JSC stated that, in its final analysis, Mr Mandaza’s conduct did not warrant any further sanction beyond encouraging him to be sensitive to clients as well as to be able to read situations and respond accordingly.
In its findings, the JSC also urged Mr Mandaza to improve his interpersonal communication skills to avoid the recurrence of similar incidences.
The AAG had accused Mr Mandaza of “gross contempt” towards the plight of self-actors seeking justice.
It said his conduct was appalling and inconsistent with the JSC’s mandate to ensure access to justice.
“On several occasions this (Deputy) Registrar has refused clients access to files, even going as far as refusing to see clients citing that he has more important duties with the Chief Justice. Which begs the question, is it not the mandate of these office bearers to assist litigants and take note of their concerns? Are these courts not for these litigants who wish to access the services of the courts?” quizzed AAG. — @mashnets