Croco Motors accused of bribing magistrate in refuel scandal

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By staff reporter

Harare, Zimbabwe – A Harare motorist Kudzayi Mundangepfupfu has filed a complaint with the Judicial Services Commission against Presiding Magistrate Yeukai Nzuda alleging bias, prejudice, and a violation of his constitutional rights in the handling of her criminal case.

In a letter addressed to the commission, Mundangepfupfu outlined several instances that she believes demonstrate the lack of impartiality on the part of Magistrate Nzuda.

She claims that the court showed favoritism towards Croco Motors, granting them a month-long postponement to find a witness, while denying a postponement to her heavily pregnant legal counsel due to a maternity medical emergency.

“Early this year Croco motors requested a postponement for a month to look for a witness they wanted to introduce after trial had commenced yet they knew 6 months prior that they would need that Witness and were granted this postponement.

“The Magistrate herself from beginning of my case would postpone dates because of leave or holidays she was taking for 3 weeks to a month at a time.

“However my legal counsel who was heavily pregnant requested a postponement due to a pregnancy medical emergency on the 26’h of April 2023 through a junior counsel as she was unwell to attend a court sitting.

Not only was it declined even though maternity leave is her right but the Magistrate went on to caution me that my trial would continue in the next 3 working days with or without legal counsel which was a violation of my constitutional right, said Mundangepfupfu.

Furthermore, Mundangepfupfu alleged that she was forced to change her legal representation against her will, despite having the same lawyer throughout the case.

She said the magistrate’s actions prejudiced her chances of winning the case and interfered with her right to choose her legal representative. Another issue raised in the complaint is the withholding of information and deliberate prejudice.

Mundangepfupfu states that the court failed to provide a fully transcribed record of proceedings within the agreed timeframe, leaving no room for verification or inspection.

This withholding of legal information is seen as a deliberate attempt to prejudice her case. The letter also accuses Magistrate Nzuda of bias and lack of impartiality.

Mundangepfupfu highlighted instances where the Magistrate Dzuda prioritized her own interests over the fair request of her counsel for trial dates. She further claims that external forces may be influencing the magistrate’s decision-making process, as she always stands down matters for a response at a later seating.

Moreover, Mundangepfupfu alleged manipulation of court records highlighting that the transcribed document provided to her before the defense trial commencement contained omitted information and manipulated content in favor of Croco Motors.

“After having verified the transcribed document that we were given day end before defense trial commencement on the 17th of May 2023 we noted that there was a lot of information omitted and some information manipulated to prejudice my case in favour of Croco motors,” she added.

Attempts to request amendments were met with delays and excuses, leaving the case in a state of prejudice, she said.

The motorist also attaches an application for discharge, along with the magistrate’s ruling, urging the oversight bodies to review them for possible misdirection, prejudice, and legal correctness.

Mundangepfupfu appealed to the Judicial Service Commission and other oversight bodies to investigate the conduct of Magistrate Nzuda and intervene in the matter promptly, as she believes the court’s impartiality and integrity have been compromised.

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