Late ex-CJ body arrives today

HARARE - The body of the late Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, who succumbed to liver and kidney complications at a hospital in South Africa on Wednesday, is expected in the country today.

A family spokesperson, who is the former judge’s brother, Boniface Chidyausiku, told the Daily News that a team had been sent to South Africa on Thursday afternoon to process the papers for the repatriation of the body.

“Announcement for the burial arrangements will be made as soon as the body arrives. As you know, he was airlifted to South Africa with the assistance of the government, so we are working closely with them,” the senior Chidyausiku said.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) also released a statement yesterday, confirming that Chidyausiku’s body will arrive at the Harare International Airport at 12:15hrs today.

The late chief justice left the bench two months ago after he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, having led the judiciary for 15 years, which included some of the country’s most trying times.

His recent retirement was blighted somewhat by the ugly rows which erupted over the appointment of his successor, when the selection decidedly took a Zanu PF factional tone, as rival camps fought to install a candidate acceptable to their respective interest groups.

The former  chief justice, who was born in February 1947, read law and graduated in 1972, before going into private practice as an advocate.

A little-known fact was that he was an MP in the Rhodesian Parliament, representing the Harare African Roll Constituency.

He later changed course, becoming a Zanu MP in the 1980 elections, also serving briefly as deputy Local Government minister and deputy Justice minister before being appointed Attorney-General in 1982.

Chidyausiku later became a High Court judge in 1987, before being elevated to the position of judge president of the High Court.

He became the country’s chief justice in 2001.

He is remembered for handing down a number of controversial rulings during his tenure, including rubber-stamping the unjust closure of the Daily News in 2003, as well as sanctioning the country’s chaotic fast-track land reforms in the early 2000s, which saw white farmers being chased away from their land.

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