THE Judicial Complaints Commission (JCC) has recommended the removal of controversial Lusaka Magistrate David Simusamba from presiding as a judicial officer.
There have been various complaints against the conduct of Magistrate Simusamba, the latest being a case where Chishimba Kambwili reported him to the Anti Corruption Commission before asking the Chief Justice to compel him to recuse himself from handing the opposition NDC leader’s case.
In December 2019, Kambwili wrote to Chief Justice, Irene Mambilima, complaining about the manner in which Magistrate Simusamba was handling the matter, i.e. his attitude towards him and his lawyers and attempts by the Magistrate to extort money from him in exchange for an acquittal.
The JCC has, however, acted in respect of a complaint filed by MMD president Nevers Mumba two years ago over the manner in which the Magistrate behaved in the case of trespassing.
In April 2018, Mumba, through his lawyers Simeza, Sangwa and Associates, wrote to Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima over Magistrate Simusamba’s alleged judicial misconduct, which suggested that he was pushing a political agenda.
“We were surprised when we appeared at court on 5th April 2017 only to be advised by the Magistrate’s interpreter that the magistrate had left for Ndola on duty. We accordingly requested the interpreter to confirm with the magistrate on phone. The magistrate picked up the call from his interpreter and reiterated that he was in Ndola but then informed the interpreter to tell the parties to wait as he was making arrangements to send the court record. We waited until after 15:30 when we were informed that he was unable to send the court record and that he would only deliver his ruling on Monday 9th April 2018. We were surprised by this development as the magistrate ought to have been aware on 3rd April 2018 when he heard the bail application and reserved his ruling to Thursday 5th April 2018 that he would be traveling out of town on the scheduled date. Unfortunately, this is how the learned magistrate has conducted himself throughout these proceedings,” Mumba’s lawyers stated.
“My Lady, we are addressing this complaint to you as the head of the Judiciary and in view of Article 136 of the Constitution which charges you with the responsibility to administratively manage the judiciary and with the added duty to ensure that judicial officers perform judicial functions with dignity, propriety and integrity. Notably, the Judicial Code of Conduct in Section 10 requires a judicial officer to diligently discharge the officer’s administrative duties and to foster integrity, honour and dignity in the administration of justice. With due respect to the honourable magistrate Simusamba, we do not think his conduct meets the requirements of Section 10(1) as his conduct in the administration of justice in this matter does not foster integrity, honour and dignity of the office he occupies. The Magistrate’s behaviour in this matter undermines the independence, integrity and professionalism of the Judiciary. He appears to be pushing a political agenda instead of remaining independent and impartial. The Purpose of our writing this letter is to bring to the attention of your office how badly the magistrate has behaved in this matter and seek your intervention.”
In a letter dated September 8, 2020, addressed to the MMD leader, the JCC stated that it had advised the judiciary management to commence an internal process that should result in the removal of Simusamba, who is now a Lusaka High Court Registrar, from the bench.
“Dear Dr. Mumba RE: YOUR COMPLAINT AGAINST MAGISTRATE DAVID SIMUSAMBA. Reference is made to your complaint to the Commission as indicated above, dated 10th April, 2018. The Commission considered the complaint and having noted the issues raised therein, resolved to submit a report to the Judicial Service Commission with a recommendable that proceedings be commenced by the said body for the removal of Magistrate Simusamba as a judicial officer,” read the letter in part.
“The Secretary to the Judicial Service Commission has since responded stating that the Judiciary Management has been tasked to further enquire into the allegations against Magistrate David Simusamba. Further, that the Commission shall be informed of the course of action to be taken by the Judicial Service Commission after completion of the internal processes. The Commission shall accordingly revert to you up receipt or the action taken report by the Judiciary Service Commission. I have been directed to inform you accordingly.”
The JCC apologised for taking long to review the complaint against Simusamba.
“The delay in attending to your complaint, due to vacancies in the membership of the Commission and other circumstances beyond the Commission’s control, is deeply regretted,” wrote JCC Secretary, Naisa Makeleta.