By Mashudu Netsianda
TWENTY-THREE police officers have taken Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to court for “dissolving” an entire police station by transferring them to various police stations while on suspension following the arrest of three of their colleagues for allegedly soliciting for bribes.
The officers were stationed at Mabvuku Police Station in Harare before they were re-deployed to various stations including in the Matabeleland region.
The cops, led by one Assistant Inspector Mhizha, yesterday filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the setting up of a board to determine their suitability to continue in their jobs
The police officers, through their lawyer, Norman Mugiyo, are seeking an order to bar their bosses from convening any hearings pending the finalisation of the matter, arguing that it was unlawful and a violation of their constitutional rights.
Mugiyo told The Chronicle yesterday that apart from that application on their suitability to continue in their jobs, the police officers were this week also going to go to court to challenge their transfers and suspensions.
In the papers before the court, the 23 police officers are the applicants while Chihuri, Senior Assistant Commissioner Justice Chengeta, who is the chief staff officer-in-charge of ZRP human resources and the president of the suitability board were cited as the respondents.
Mhizha, in his founding affidavit, said they were shocked when they received a radio signal summoning them to appear before the board of suitability last Thursday. He claimed that the board of suitability is aimed at unfairly discharging them from the police service.
“No reason has been given as to why the respondents decided to convene a board of suitability against me and the rest of the applicants in violation of the provisions of section 68 (2) of the constitution. Clearly the purpose of convening the board of suitability in terms of section 50 of the Police Act is to discharge us from the police service,” said Mhizha.
He queried the decision by his bosses to convene the board of suitability considering that they had not committed any crime.
“I tend to speculate that what ignited the sudden decision to convene the board of suitability against me and the other applicants is the fact that we were transferred from Mabvuku without notice and the rest of the applicants were suspended from work a week ago,” said Mhizha.
He argued that the board of suitability is only convened after a police officer has been tried in terms of the Police Act or under ordinary law and convicted.
“In casu, the respondents did not charge me or any of the applicants let alone convict us and it therefore boggles the mind why the respondents should convene the board of suitability. Chihuri is clearly deprived of wise legal counsel by his law officers and he is fed with toxic legal advice which defeats the rule of law,” said Mhizha.
He said that as a result of misinformed decisions by their bosses, they were now forced to pay dearly for other people’s sins.
“The reason why the respondents took such drastic measures is because of three officers who were arrested for soliciting for bribes and when it occurred we were not on duty. The respondents then decided to punish all police officers at Mabvuku Police Station notwithstanding the fact that we were not linked to the offence. We are now paying dearly for the sins committed by the three police officers,” said Mhizha.
The police officers want the court to grant them an interim relief interdicting their bosses from convening a suitability board until the matter is finalised.
Last year, the ZRP fired 300 police officers for corruption. The cops were found guilty among other breaches of the ZRP Charter of receiving bribes from motorists who had fallen foul of road regulations. The Chronicle