A Tribute To Justice Wilson Sandura:Obert Gutu

A jurist of impeccable credentials and cutting edge brilliance, Justice Wilson Sandura was everything that one could wish for in a learned judge. He was smart, attentive, articulate, resolute and thoroughly impartial.Justice Wilson Sandura was never one to compromise on his judicial independence and impartiality.He was a resolute and confident jurist who would unpack otherwise complex legal issues and concepts with remarkable clarity and lucidity. As testimony to his unwavering and uncompromising impartiality and independence of thought,he was never one to shy away from handing down minority dissenting judgments in otherwise very controversial and politically sensitive matters; particularly those matters that involved the highly emotive land reform exercise.

I first knew Justice Wilson Sandura during my days as a young professional assistant at Messrs.Chirunda,Chihambakwe & Partners.By that time , Justice Sandura was the Judge President at the High Court in Harare.He had an exacting work ethic and his general administration of the High Court bench was exceptionally thorough and efficient. His time – keeping was always invariably spot on.I appeared before Justice Sandura on numerous occasions be it in his chambers attending pre – trial conferences,in the unopposed matters High Court motion court,in the opposed matters High Court motion court,arguing urgent chamber applications as well as in criminal and civil trials.His attention to detail was breath – taking and his mastery of the law was nothing short of outstanding. He would deliver well – researched and well -written judgments and his legacy is captured in the several reported High Court and Supreme Court judgments that he wrote over the years.I remember arguing a number of both criminal and civil cases before him in the Supreme Court.He would peruse the court record inside out.He would literally spell out the applicable law chapter and verse.He was simply and absolutely brilliant.

Justice Wilson Sandura was very firm but fair. He would not tolerate poorly prepared heads of argument.He had a tinge of arrogance that I always admired.If you had to argue a case before him either in the High Court or in the Supreme Court,you had to be well – prepared. He was never one to tolerate laziness,corruption, indolence and mediocrity.He was a fine jurist ; a judge from the top drawer.At one time,the majority of the membership of the legal fraternity were of the unanimous view that Justice Wilson Sandura would have made an excellent Chief Justice. That he never rose to become Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice simply boggles the mind. Indeed, Justice Wilson Sandura was the perfect Chief Justice that Zimbabwe never got to have.

The tragic passing on of Justice Wilson Sandura is a great loss not only to his family,but also to the entire legal fraternity as well as to Zimbabwe as a whole.We all remember his outstanding record as chairman of the Sandura Commission of Inquiry into the Willowvale motor scandal. Such was the man. He was a fearless beacon of integrity and impartiality. He will be sorely missed.

May his departed soul rest in eternal peace.