Zimbabweans have described the death of former Supreme Court judge, Justice Wilson Sandura, as a great loss, saying he contributed immensely in enhancing justice in the country.
Ordinary people, legal practitioners and state officials, who spoke to Studio 7 today, said the late Sandura, who died on Wednesday after sustaining injuries in a road traffic accident in February, had an independent mind and applied the law without fear or favour.
Some of the late judge’s dissenting voices in Supreme Court rulings include a case in which the Independent Journalists’ Association of Zimbabwe in 2003 challenged the constitutionality of the some provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act or AIPPA compelling journalists to be accredited before operating in the country.
Sandura argued that “it is pertinent to note that there is no rational basis for distinguishing the practice of journalism from the exercise of the right of freedom of expression because the two are intertwined.”
The late Sandura was also the lone voice among some judges in opposing a one-year jail term imposed on then MDC treasurer general, Roy Bennet, who shoved then Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa in parliament. Bennet was challenging the stiff sentence saying he was protected by some parliamentary privileges.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and other judges dismissed Bennet’s application for early release from prison but Sandura strongly opposed their ruling.
There are several other cases in which he opposed rulings of the Supreme Court. And of course, he is also well-known for taking head-on some ministers in 1989, who were illegally buying and selling motor vehicles under a state-sanctioned scheme. The scam, in which some ministers resigned, became known as the Willowgate Car Scandal.
Zimbabwe’s former Attorney General Sobusa Gula Ndebele said the country had lost a brilliant legal practitioner.
There was no official comment from the Zimbabwe government. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and several other Supreme Court judges today attended a funeral wake at the late Sandura’s home in Harare. He is expected to be laid to rest this weekend.