Harare—The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has opened an investigation into reports of corruption and abuse of office by the Kadoma Messenger of Court, Otten Tsogolani .
A Kwekwe resident from Mbizo, Denford Matinha, recently filed a complaint with the JSC, accusing Tsogolani of stock theft and conducting an auction in an irregular manner for personal gain.
The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) helped Matinha in engaging the JSC.
As indicated in his affidavit, Matinha owed his domestic worker, Sydney Mutsvaba, US$1,365 in wage arrears accrued over eight months when he was reportedly ill and could not meet his obligations.
The Labour Court had issued an order forcing Matinha to compensate the employee by paying him the money in the equivalent of seven cattle.
However, Tsogolani, in enforcing the order, allegedly went to Matinha’s rural homestead in his absence and attached the seven cattle but added an extra three beasts—one black steer, a brown-and-black heifer and a brown cow—before reportedly holding a secret auction to dispose of the livestock.
“I was not present when the Messenger of Court conducted the auction secretly (and) he stole three herd of cattle that he was not entitled to attach,” alleged Matinha.
One of the extra beasts that Tsogolani, who could not be reached for his own side of the story, reportedly attached cattle belonged to another person and should not have been taken, Matinha added.
The cattle were moved to an auction centre without the necessary documentation, he also noted, and implicated the area police in the alleged scam.
“After the fraudulent auction to sell the cattle to individuals running butcheries, the police cleared the same without documents to prove ownership. In addition, they were all moved by bidders without movement permits from the Department of Veterinary Services,” he wrote.
In a 28 December 2023 hard copy letter seen by NewsHub that was referenced “Conduct of the Kadoma Messenger of Court: Sydney Mutsvaba”, Bianca Makwande, a deputy chief magistrate writing on behalf of the JSC, acknowledged to Matinha that the commission had commenced an investigation into the alleged corruption.
“We acknowledge receipt of your letter regarding (the) above. Please be advised that we are now investigating the matter and will revert back (sic) as soon as our investigations are complete,” reads the feedback note.
The letter was copied to Obert Chinhamo, the ACT-SA director whose organisation has helped unearth numerous cases of corruption in the Midlands and nearby provinces and aided Matinha bring his predicament to JSC’s attention.
Matinha, in an interview with NewsHub, hoped justice would prevail.
He alleged that the Messenger of Court had manufactured an illegal bill that would personally benefit him.
“I submitted all the evidence to JSC. The court ruled that I was supposed to have property worth US$1,365 attached but the Messenger of Court inflated it to US$1 782 after adding some items on his own, such as his lunches of US$120, a supposed lorry hire of US$100, his personal commission of US$228 and purported advertising of the secret auction he says cost US$50,” he said.
Matinha hopes to recover his “stolen” cattle.
The ACT-SA director, Chinhamo, suspects that more messengers of court in other parts of the country were also abusing their offices with impunity.
“We suspect that it might not just be a crisis for Kadoma, but a national problem. There is need for full-scale investigations countrywide and appropriate policy responses. The government should also get concerned,” Chinhamo said.