By Staff Reporter
Harare-based property developer, George Katsimberis, has recently filed an application seeking the recusal of Harare regional Magistrate Wongai Guwuriro.
Katsimberis, through his lawyer Advocate Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, argues that Magistrate Guwuriro is conflicted due to ongoing defamation charges she is facing from Harare lawyer Milliscent Moyo, who happens to be legal counsel for Katsimberis.
The controversy arose during the trial of the State v Georgios Katsimberis in Court 9 of the Harare Magistrates Court on February 14, 2023.
Allegedly, Magistrate Guwuriro accused Moyo, who was standing in for Advocate Chinyoka, of providing false information about the latter’s travel plans.
This incident prompted the Law Society of Zimbabwe to initiate an investigation into Moyo’s conduct, with Mutumbwa Mugabe and Partners, the legal firm representing Katsimberis, sending letters of demand for defamation to Magistrate Guwuriro.
Advocate Chinyoka explained the rationale behind the application, stating, “As a result of these events and actions, and these possible claims for defamation, we are therefore making an application for the Magistrate to recuse herself. The immediate reason for the application is that a conflict of interest has arisen.”
Chinyoka further elaborated, “There is a conflict of interest between her worship the magistrate and the accused person in that the defense is suing the magistrate for defamation over remarks not covered by quantified privilege made in court on February 14. However, I should hasten to add that events of 14 February 2023 were just a culmination of a string of decisions made in the case that have created the impression her worship, the learned magistrate may no longer be in a position to guarantee the accused person the right to a fair hearing for an impartial tribunal as guaranteed in the Constitution.”
The lawyer argued that due to the impending legal action between the defense and the court, it would be impossible for Magistrate Guwuriro to remain professional and objective in handling the case.
He claimed that the personal interests of the magistrate and the defense were now directly engaged with each other, making it challenging to ensure a fair trial.
Katsimberis is facing fraud charges, with accusations that he provided Pokugara Properties with unapproved architectural plans, despite confirmation from the City of Harare that the plans were authentic.
The application for Magistrate Guwuriro’s recusal adds another layer of complexity to an already high-profile case.