PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired High Court judge Thompson James Mabhikwa who was last year suspended after his girlfriend, Oratile Nare, who was then an assistant to a fellow Bulawayo judge, leaked his nudes and vulgar WhatsApp messages.
Nare, then assistant to Justice Maxwell Takuva, posted Mabhikwa’s nudes and dirty messages to all his contacts and judges’ group before they immediately went viral, forcing the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to launch a probe before Mnangagwa appointed a tribunal chaired by retired judge Justice November Mtshiya which handed its report last week.
Now a magistrate in Nkayi, Matabeleland North province, Nare has since been suspended over a different matter.
In a letter dated 11 April 2022 addressed to Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Chief Secretary to the President and cabinet Misheck Sibanda advised that Mabhikwa’s removal from office of the High Court was with immediate effect.
“The Tribunal which was inquiring into the questions of removal from office of Honourable Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa in terms of 187 (3) of the Constitution has completed its work,” the letter to Malaba reads in part.
“The Tribunal has reported its findings to His Excellency, the President Cde ED Mnangagwa, and has recommended that Honourable Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa be removed from office of a Judge for acts of gross misconduct.”
“Accordingly, His Excellency the President, acting in terms of section 187 (8) of the Constitution, has removed the honourable Judge Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa from the office of with immediate effect,” Sibanda wrote.
Justice Mabhikwa, who was based at the Bulawayo High Court was accused of bedding a member of staff at the High Court, itself an act of misconduct.
It emerged that Justice Mabhikwa was having an intimate affair with Nare who, following a visit to his place, discovered raunchy messages with other women and nudes and, out of anger, posted them in all his contacts, including a work group.
In appointing the tribunal in June last year which was initially chaired by retired judge Justice Maphios Cheda, Mnangagwa said via a Statutory Instrument in the Government Gazette the panel should investigate whether Mabhikwa’s conduct could be deemed to have been tantamount to gross misconduct.
He also said the tribunal should investigate whether or not the judge committed acts of sexual harassment, possessed pornographic material and to investigate any other matter which the tribunal may deem appropriate and relevant to the question of removal from office of a judge in terms of the law.