One year on, justice still elusive

21 Jan, 2018 - 00:01 0 Views
One year on, justice still elusive

The Sunday Mail

Over-the-counter, more like your Panadol.

That is how the justice delivery system is like in the country. When you have the money, you can simply order what justice package suits your pocket.

This is not a tall tale, but a personal experience of how frustrating the justice delivery system is in the country.

Almost a year ago, February 19 to be exact, we published an account of what we had seen in Gwanda, the site of the much-publicised $202 million solar project whose tender had been won by Wicknell Chivhayo.

In the weeks preceding our tour to Gwanda, the Press had been full of reports of possible tender-tampering with regards to the awarding of the tender. These fears were raised when it was reported that Intratrek, the company that Chivhayo fronts, was given $5 million upfront by Zesa, the contractor, without any bank guarantees.

The $5 million was meant for pre-commencement works. This tickled our interests. There was no better way than to visit Gwanda and see for ourselves the “pre-commencement” works on the ground.

Apart from some scrappy opening of roadways, we also found a herd of cattle enjoying the lush green grass on the site, scenes we aptly described and captured in photography. Even the locals in Gwanda confirmed that Intratrek workers had not spent more than three months on the site.

And stories of such a nature do not go to print without the other side of the story. To which we sought comment from Intratrek. Initially Chivhayo sounded too busy to respond to our questions and as an after-thought referred us to his manager.

The manager’s response, as well as our account of what we had seen in Gwanda, were carried in the issue of February 19.

Then out of the blue, the following day around mid-morning, I was to receive a flurry of insulting messages on my mobile phone through WhatsApp. I could not believe my eyes when I read the insults, which were mostly of a personal nature – my mother, my HIV and Aids, my poverty, you name it.

Not sure what to do, I posted the insults on my Facebook page and within minutes the post was trending. And the support from across the divide was overwhelming – here I was, being personally insulted for reporting on a project of national importance.

Then a week later, feeling terribly wronged that my mother and myself had been insulted for reporting on a national project, I walked into Harare Central Police Station to make a criminal report against Chivhayo.

What I thought would be the start of justice delivery has turned, a year later, into nothing but a farce.

Some criminals have committed their crimes, been tried and served their jail sentences in the year that I have been waiting for justice.

This is not to suggest that Chivhayo should have been jailed – but just an illustration on how the justice delivery system can be delayed, frustrated and compromised.

I have lost count of the number of times that I have been to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority offices in Mount Pleasant, ostensibly to have my gadget “examined” – like I was the offender.

Because of the number of tall tales I have been told, and the last time I was told the Potraz technician couldn’t remember his password, I knew this was part of the ploy to delay and frustrate me.

The police have not been helpful either way – the simple response being that the docket is with the Prosecutor-General’s Office, awaiting further instruction. A check with the PG’s Office, in turn, said the docket is still with the police.

There you have it, can there be any frustration worse than that?

Then just the other week, the queer phone call came from some superintendent at Harare Central who was going through the docket. He said he was looking for recommendations on how to proceed with the case, recommendations he would forward to the PG’s Office.

The police looking for recommendations from the complainant? Why not just take the case to court and let justice be delivered?

At the rate at which Chivhayo is being protected by State agents, who should be at the forefront of justice delivery, it gives an impression that it is legal to insult each other on social media.

At the same time I reported the case at Harare Central Police Station, a civil case was opened at the High Court.

Just as the same pattern with the criminal case, the civil case has been frustrated left, right and centre, leaving my legal representative, Tichawana Nyahuma, with no option but to apply for a default judgment.

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