The High Court in Bulawayo has ordered Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to reinstate 13 Zvishavane cops fired for unspecified acts of misconduct
The ruling by Justice Maxwell Takuva follows an urgent chamber application filed by the 13 police officers from the Minerals and Border Control Unit challenging their dismissal.
The aggrieved cops, who were fired on different occasions, appealed to the Police Service Commission in terms of Section 51 of the Police Act between February and April, but their boss allegedly refused to reinstate them.
In papers before the court, the fired police officers cited Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and Comm-Gen Chihuri as respondents.
Justice Takuva ruled that Comm-Gen Chihuri’s refusal to reinstate the applicants after they had noted an appeal was unlawful.
“In casu, the Commissioner-General exercised his powers in terms of the Police Act and discharged the applicants, who then appealed against the order in terms of Section 51 of the Police Act, whose effect is that an appeal automatically by operation of the law suspends the decision appealed against,” said the judge.
Justice Takuva directed the police chief not to execute his order until the Police Service Commission has given its decision.
In the circumstance, the Commissioner-General cannot claim to have powers to discharge and not to reinstate.
“In my view, to argue that it is the Police Service Commission that should reinstate amounts to requiring the applicants to apply for stay of execution in circumstances where that relief has already been granted by the law,” said the judge.
“In the circumstances, it is ordered that, pending confirmation of the provisional order, an interim relief is granted ordering the first respondent to reinstate the 13 applicants into the Police Service forthwith,” ruled Justice Takuva.
The cops, led by one Constable Mutimusakwa, recently filed the application following their dismissal.
The police officers through their lawyer, Mr Norman Mugiya, sought an order directing their boss to reinstate them into the police service pending the finalisation of the matter.
Mr Mugiya argued that his clients were supposed to be reinstated as soon as their appeals were received.
Comm-Gen Chihuri, through the Civil Division in the Attorney-General’s Office, said it was improper to bunch all the applicants in one application, arguing that they had different scenarios.
The Civil Division in the AG’s Office argued that the Comm-Gen of the Police is not an employer and has no power to compel the Police Service Commission to reinstate the applicants.