The High Court has sentenced Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo to 90 days imprisonment with labour until he fully complies with an order directing him to pay Tendai Blessing Mangwiro his US$1.5 million which was seized by the police in 2008.
The High Court found Dr Chombo guilty of contempt of court for failing to comply with court orders instructing him to ensure the Mutare businessman was reimbursed his money.
Justice Amy Tsanga took the Attorney General (AG) representative Joseph Mumbengegwi to task over the failure by the AG to respond to several orders of the court, following application by the applicant in the matter.
Mumbengegwi attempted to seek the removal of the matter from the roll arguing that the Minister had not been personally served with a contempt of court application.
However, Mangwiro’s legal counsel Edmore Tendai Mhlekiwa convinced the court that the sheriff had personally served the Minister and a return of service to that effect was in the record.
He accused Mumbengegwi of trying to frustrate the applicants’ rights and urged the court to grant the order sought as the AG was barred from being heard as he had disregarded several orders of the court.ÂÂÂ
Justice Tsanga agreed that the record clearly showed that the AG’s office had not filed any notice of opposition as required by the rules to argue that the Minister had not been personally served.
Justice Tsanga told Mr Mumbengegwi that the AG’s office had been totally negligent taking action and should have the burden of explaining to Minister Chombo that it was their office which had put him in the predicament.
She slapped Minister Chombo with a 3-month term of imprisonment with labour which will only be wholly suspended when he fully complies with court orders in cases number HC4766/13 and HC4261/16.
She additionally ordered that the term imprisonment shall be wholly suspended on condition that Minister Chombo complies with two High Court orders directing him to ensure that the applicant Tendai Mangwiro enjoyed his right to his money which was unlawful ceased by the police.
The case has been in the courts for 8 years.