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High Court Judge Justice Charles Hungwe was yesterday grilled by Judicial Service Commissioners during public interviews to select Supreme Court judges.

Justice Hungwe was grilled over an incident in which a woman died while in his company soon after having sex with the businesswoman in Bindura and delays in passing judgment on a number of cases, all of which the panel felt compromised his integrity. Justice Hungwe is already the subject of allegations of misconduct now before President Mugabe.

One of the charges against Justice Hungwe pertains to delays in finalising a case against Jonathan Mutsinze, an armed robber and murderer he convicted 10 years ago, but has failed to sentence after losing the court record. Other judges were criticised by the panel for failing to explain simple court procedures.

Justice Hungwe said he regretted the Bindura incident after being asked if he thought the incident had an effect on his integrity and if it would not compromise his appointment to the Supreme Court bench.

Justice Hungwe was part of 10 other judges who turned up for the first public interviews for those aspiring to sit on the Supreme Court bench. An eight member JSC panel led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku interviewed aspirants at a city hotel yesterday.

The panel included Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Judge president George Chiweshe, Chief Magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe, three legal practitioners designated by the Law Society of Zimbabwe – Mr Lloyd Mhishi, Mrs Priscilla Madzonga and Mr Josphat Tshuma and an accountant designated by the Public Accountants and Auditors Board Mrs Priscilla Mutembwa.

Justice Hungwe was asked to explain if he had ever found himself in a situation that he felt was likely to compromise his integrity or was generally improper for a judge to be in and how he handled the situation.

Early, this year Justice Hungwe was embroiled in a sex scandal after a Bindura businesswoman Gladys Farai Mangwiro (55) reportedly died minutes after having sex with him.

This is the first time Justice Hungwe has publicly spoken about the fatal romp.

"Yes! I think most of the issues relating to integrity for me what comes to mind is, eh, the case which involved my private life, but I think the manner in which I handled it was at the beginning of this year. I approached the necessary parties involved, which included primarily my wife and those from the immediate family of the deceased and I made the necessary approaches and explained myself. In my view that on its own demonstrates beyond doubt how I approach ethical issues," he said.

Chief Justice Chidyausiku further asked Justice Hungwe if his prominence in the public domain would not affect his appointment to the Supreme Court bench.
"There has been a lot of publicity regarding your conduct in the public domain," he said. "Obviously, the commission would be concerned that it should not be seen to be rewarding you for that. Can you explain and help the commission overcome this?"

In response, Justice Hungwe said: "I regret what caused my prominence in the newspapers and I undertake to guard against such future occurrences."
He said he handled the issue ethically and it should not affect his integrity if appointed.

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