Businessman threatens to sue sheriff over Chombo

HARARE - Mutare businessman Tendai Blessing Mangwiro has threatened to take legal action against the High Court sheriff for failing to execute an order for the jailing of Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo following his conviction for defying the courts.

Chombo was early this month slapped with a 90-day prison term after he failed to comply with the High Court edict directing him to facilitate the release of $78 900 confiscated from Mangwiro by the police following his wrongful arrest on theft allegations in 2008.

The police failed to return Mangwiro’s money after he was acquitted in 2012, claiming that the cash had been handed to the then complainant Andrea Nsaka Nsaka, prompting the businessman to institute the legal proceedings.

After High Court judge Amy Tsanga’s ruling for Chombo’s incarceration, the minister filed a Supreme Court appeal challenging the decision.

He also argued that he has since purged the contempt through a letter that was written to Treasury in March this year for the money to be released.

Mangwiro through his lawyers from Mahuni and Mutatu Legal Practitioners, in a letter addressed to the High Court sheriff on Thursday, said Chombo’s letter to Treasury does not constitute full compliance with the court order.

“In view of the fact that no payment has been made to date and in the absence of any subsequent court order directing your office otherwise, there is no reason why your office (sheriff’s) should not comply with the order of the honourable justice Tsanga.

“Our instructions are that should your office fail to execute the instruction as per order by apprehending the honourable (Dr) Chombo and committing him to gaol within the next 24 hours, we shall be forced to institute appropriate legal proceedings against your office,” Mangwiro’s lawyers said.

The lawyers said that Tsanga’s judgment was clear in that it specified that Chombo can only avoid serving a jail term only if he complies with the court order.

“It has become worrisome to us that the office of the sheriff has shown utter disdain of its constitutional duty to enforce court orders as directed by the courts,” the lawyers said.

Mangwiro also separately won another High Court order compelling the minister to further release $1,5 million which was also forcibly taken from him by police at the time of his arrest.

He has also challenged the State Liabilities Act after failing to find recourse and claims Chombo and the police are abusing the Act to avoid complying with court orders.

According to Section 5 of the State Liabilities Act, where a person successfully sues the State, the court cannot order execution or attachment against the State’s property.

But Chombo as the nominal defendant and Home Affairs minister has an obligation to have the money paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

High Court judge Edith Mushore reserved ruling in the matter recently.

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