High Court Hears Clergyman’s Challenge of Exorbitant User Fees

High Court Hears Clergyman’s Challenge of Exorbitant User Fees

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HIGH Court Judges Justice Owen Tagu and Justice Rogers Manyangadze will on 6 September 2022 hear and make a determination on an application filed by a Zimbabwean clergyman Pastor Abinel Mukaro, who is challenging the exorbitant levying of court user fees, which has the effect of impeding him from accessing justice.

On 8 February 2022, the Chivhu-based Pastor Mukaro dragged Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya to the High Court seeking an order to set aside and declare as unconstitutional the requirement to pay a 1% commission to the Registrar of the High Court.

Pastor Mukaro had the misfortune of being advised that he should pay the Registrar of the High Court 1% of US$73 500, which is the amount that he was claiming and which amounted to US$7 350 for service of summons in which he in October 2021 sued Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe, Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Detective Steven Dondo for causing the death of his wife Sharai Mukaro. Sharai died in September 2021 from injuries sustained as a result of the severe assault and torture inflicted upon her by Dondo and other ZRP officers in a “Darkroom” at Chivhu Police Station, where she was detained after being accused of stealing US$1 000.

In the application, Pastor Mukaro, who is represented by Sarudzayi Njerere of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), argued that requiring him to pay 1% of the total amount that he is claiming in a legal action resulting from the death of her wife infringes and deprives him of his right to equal benefit of the law.

The clergyman argued that allowing the Registrar of the High Court to charge a commission on a claim, has the effect of shutting out poor litigants out of court and it makes justice a commodity that can only be accessed by those with deep pockets.

Pastor Mukaro wants the High Court to declare Item 2 of the High Court (Fees) (Civil Cases) Regulations, 1992 published in the High Court (Fees) (Civil Cases) (Amendment) Rules, 2020 (No.11) Statutory Instrument 221 of 2020 as unconstitutional as it infringes his right to equal benefit from the law as guaranteed in section 56(1) of the Constitution as well as his right of access to the courts as provided in section 69(3) of the Constitution.

Already, Chivhu Magistrate Henry Sande has faulted some ZRP officers and ruled that foul play could have been committed which led to the death of Sharai.

This came after Magistrate Sande presided over an inquest to establish the cause of death of Sharai, which was only instituted after the Mukaro family lawyer Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR, initiated legal proceedings.

Magistrate Sande ruled that there is a likelihood that the late Sharai was assaulted by some police officers based at the Criminal Investigations Department at ZRP Chivhu Police Station.

ENDS

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