HARARE – The sheriff has been asked to engage the commissioner-general of police, Augustine Chihuri and director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Happyton Bonyongwe, to facilitate in the arrest of Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo (pictured) for contempt of court.
This comes after security officials blocked the sheriff from arresting Chombo at the Zanu PF politburo meeting last week.
This followed a directive for his incarceration for failing to comply with a High Court order to facilitate the release of funds seized by police from Mutare-based businessman, Tendai Blessing Mangwiro.
Mangwiro’s lawyers have instructed the sheriff to seek the assistance of Chihuri and Bonyongwe because Chombo enjoys VIP protection, which might make it difficult to arrest him.
The move to arrest Chombo comes after he was last year slapped with a 90-day prison term by High Court judge Amy Tsanga after he was found guilty of contempt of court for failing to comply with an order directing him to facilitate the release of a further $78 900 confiscated from Mangwiro. The Home Affairs minister had appealed against the contempt of court conviction, before he withdrew the application, which prompted Mangwiro to take the current route.
Mangwiro has been in a prolonged legal battle with the police to recover his money, which also resulted in him seeking an order for the court to strike off the State Liabilities Act from the country’s statutes.
The striking off of this Act will allow owed litigants to attach government property.
High Court judge Edith Mushore has since ruled that the Act is unconstitutional but had erroneously referred the matter to the Constitutional Court for confirmation of the order, resulting in the matter being struck off by the highest court in the land on procedural basis.
Mangwiro is seeking to recover a total of over $1,5 million confiscated by the police in 2008, following his wrongful arrest on theft charges. He was acquitted in 2012.
In a report addressed to Mangwiro, the sheriff said that the first attempt to execute the arrest order failed last Wednesday.
“… failed to arrest the respondent (Chombo) who was said to be engaged at the politburo at the Zanu PF headquarters and was barred by security personnel to physically check his office and corroborate such fact,” the Sheriff said.
Following this first attempt, the Attorney General (AG)’s office wrote a letter to Mangwiro’s lawyers Mahuni, Mutatu Attorneys, accusing them of acting in bad faith.
The AG’s office said that the lawyers had renounced agency and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) was now handling the matter.
However, the lawyers responded stating that they were the lawyers of choice for Mangwiro in the contempt of court case against Chombo and that the ZLHR was representing their client in a different matter.