CHIEF Registrar of the Judiciary Charles Kafunda has distanced the judiciary from the recommendation made by the Judicial Complaints Commission (JCC) to have Magistrate David Simusamba removed from presiding as a judicial officer in a matter where he was found wanting for misconduct.
And the JCC chairman William Nyirenda says he does not understand how the letter of recommendation to remove Simusamba found itself in the public space, as such matters are considered confidential.
After Magistrate Simusamba convicted NDC president Chishimba Kambwili to 12 months imprisonment with hard labour, MMD president Nevers Mumba said he did not understand why the court official was still working when the JCC had already recommended his removal from the Judiciary on ground that he had misconducted himself when handling the criminal trespass case involving him.
Asked to explain why the Judiciary had not acted on the recommendation from the JCC, Kafunda said the JCC was better placed to comment on the matter, adding that complaints connected to court cases and judgements are handled by the JCC while the Judiciary management handles administrative matters.
“We can’t comment, those judgments are court cases. So, we can’t comment as management on court cases. That recommendation you are talking about is JCC and not judiciary. So, you need to get in touch with the Judicial Complaints Commission. I can’t comment on that. The JCC is the one responsible with dealing with complaints from the public or from a person who is affected. If a complaint relates to a case, the matter is for JCC. Such kind of recommendations are confidential and so we can’t comment on them,” Kafunda said.
Meanwhile, Nyirenda in an interview also said the JCC would not discuss the matter in public as that was not procedurally.
He added that the JCC did not know how the Simusamba recommendation leaked to the press.
“We don’t make any public comments on issues that come to us because issues that come to us are very confidential and we do not comment on confidential issues with the press. Secondly, the issue of Mr Simusamba is of confidential nature and we do not issue any statements on matters that come to us because they are highly confidential,” Nyirenda said.
Asked how the recommendation letter found itself in public domain if the matter was confidential, Nyirenda said: “I have no idea how [that recommendation] came in public domain, and certainly not from us. For us, we do not discuss our clients issues in the press.”
In September, the JCC made a recommendation to the judicial service commission to have Simusamba removed from presiding as a judicial officer.
There had 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 however, acted in respect of a complaint filed by Mumba two years ago over the manner in which the Magistrate behaved in the criminal trespass case.
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.
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.
“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.