Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
POLICE Commissioner General, Godwin Matanga, is challenging the reinstatement by the High Court of a junior police officer who was fired by his predecessor for refusing to move to his new station without receiving his travel and subsistence allowances.
Constable Samuel Kufandada was in March 2015 transferred from Ross Camp in Bulawayo to ZRP Makosa in Murehwa district despite having successfully challenged the move at the Harare High Court in February 2015.
Following a court application by Const Kufandada challenging his dismissal, Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva, last month nullified his dismissal.
In papers before the court, Const Kufandada had cited former Comm-Gen Augustine Chihuri, ex-Senior Assistant Commissioner Justice Chengeta who was then chief staff officer-in-charge of ZRP human resources, Snr Asst Comm Stephen Mutamba who was then the officer commanding police in Bulawayo province, the officer commanding Murehwa district, one Chief Superintendent Chizemo and Assistant Commissioner Wilson Marecha in his capacity as the one who initiated a radio discharging him, as respondents.
Justice Takuva also ordered the respondents to disburse travel and subsistence allowances towards Const Kufandada’s transfer from Ross Camp to ZRP Makosa within 14 days of the order and to pay the legal costs he incurred.
Const Kufandada had been locked in a series of legal disputes with his bosses resulting in him being declared a deserter and he was subsequently fired.
Comm-Gen Matanga, through the Attorney-General’s Office, filed an application for rescission of Justice Takuva’s ruling.
In his application, he cited Const Kufandada, Chief Supt Chizemo, the officer-in-charge of ZRP Makosa and ex-Snr Asst Comm Chengeta as respondents.
Comm-Gen Matanga wants an order nullifying Justice Takuva’s ruling under case number HC2997/17. The police boss also wants Const Kufandada to be directed to serve him with the application for review under HC3298/15 within 10 days of the order to enable him to respond.
In his founding affidavit, Comm-Gen Matanga said Const Kufandada’s application for a default judgment was granted in error.
“The application under which the first respondent (Const Kufandada) grounded the chamber application was removed from the roll by order of this court to enable service on myself. I beg leave of the court to tender the order dated July 27, 2017 and the application up to this day has not been served on me,” he said.
Comm-Gen Matanga said Const Kufandada, apart from his transfer, failed to report to any police station to register his presence and availability to perform his police duties.
He said his presence at Ross Camp Police Station had nothing to do with the allowances he had been pressing for.
“In that regard, the decision to declare the first respondent a deserter could not be faulted since he was not reporting for duty in excess of 21 days, and this absence in terms of the police disciplinary law amounts to desertion. The first respondent even from the papers of record in the main matter is not explaining his absence and his whereabouts,” said Comm-Gen Matanga.
He argued that they could not process his transfer allowances after Const Kufandada failed to avail documents to support his assertion of having 10 family members, his claim for 44 days as well as his disturbance allowances.
“When the issue was being looked into the first respondent was evasive and could not be located to such an extent that when the transport to ferry his goods and family was availed he was nowhere to be found and efforts to locate him were all aborted,” said Comm-Gen Matanga.
However, Const Kufandada argued that although he successfully challenged his transfer to Murehwa after Justice Chinembiri-Bhunu ruled in his favour under case number HC3240/15, he agreed to move, but his bosses refused to give him his travel and subsistence allowances.
Const Kufandada said to show that he was eager to assume duties at his new station, he completed and submitted to the responsible office a claim form for travel and subsistence allowances to cater for his transfer as well as his family but nothing was done.
“I have waited in vain for the money and despite numerous follow ups, the respondents failed to address my plight in a surprise move that smacks of bad faith and malice,” he said.
Const Kufandada said when his bosses sent a truck to carry his belongings to Murehwa, he refused to comply, arguing that he was not given travel and subsistence allowances and no accommodation arrangements were made.
He also raised the issue of his children who were supposed to move with him to Makosa, but needed to be transferred to schools there as well as buying new uniforms.
He said his bosses failed to secure alternative accommodation for him at ZRP Makosa and claimed that his dismissal was linked to a story published in this newspaper in which he was suing his bosses for contempt of court after they defied a court order blocking his transfer.
Const Kufandada said he was discharged on 29 October 2015 as unsuitable for police duties without a disciplinary hearing.—@mashnets