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Supreme Court Judge facing removal from office over misconduct

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Judge Francis Bere

Supreme Court Judge facing removal from office over misconduct. President Mnangagwa appointed the tribunal after lawyer Itai Ndudzo of Mutamangira and Associates alleged that the judge had called him on his phone telling him to settle a civil dispute. Ndudzo was representing the Zimbabwe Road Administration (Zinara) in a case against a company called Fremus Enterprises. Fremus Enterprises is allegedly owned by Justice Bere’s relatives.

Supreme Court judge Justice Francis Bere is facing removal from office after he was accused of unethical conduct by a lawyer. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since appointed a tribunal to look into the allegations and determine Justice Bere’s fitness to hold office.

According to online publication Zimlive, Part of Ndudzo’s complaint reads. “The learned judge indeed contacted me telephonically. The commercial dispute between my client (Zinara) and Fremus Enterprises Pvt Ltd was discussed in the course of the conversation.

“The learned judge’s relatives are co-directors of Fremus Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd. The learned judge inquired whether or not there would be the possibility of payment being expedited to Fremus (Pvt) Ltd. “I declined the request and the conversation ended abruptly on that note.”

Justice Francis Bere is denying Ndundzo’s account insisting that the call was purely a social one. The two used to sit on the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) ethics committee together.

Nonetheless, President Mnangagwa has appointed a three-member tribunal to look into Justice Bere’s conduct. The tribunal consists of retired judge Simbi Mubako who will be assisted by lawyers Advocate Takawira Nzombe and Rekayi Maphosa to investigate the judge.

Announcing the tribunal, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda said. “Please be advised that His Excellency, the President has appointed a Tribunal to inquire into the question of removal from office of Honourable Justice Francis Bere.

“The inquiry is expected to commence soon after the swearing-in of the members and is to be concluded within three months from date of commencement.”

This is the second ethics investigation that Justice Bere is facing. In January last year, a panel of four judges appointed by Chief Justice Luke Malaba looked into Justice Bere’s conduct after Meikles chairman, John Moxon filed a complaint alleging conflict of interest in a case the judge had presided over.

The four-member Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee chaired by Constitutional and Supreme Court judge Rita Makarau cleared Justice Bere of any wrongdoing.

Justice Bere also won international acclaim following his ruling in which a transgender woman won a landmark case in Zimbabwe. He awarded Ricky Nathanson civil damages after she was arrested and humiliated by police in Bulawayo for using a ladies’ toilet in a nightclub.

Source – iHarare

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