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2 officers challenge superiors' decision

by Staff reporter
26 Jan 2020 at 06:06hrs | Views
TWO cops who were ordered to pay $1 000 each as punishment for deserting their police base in Selonga in Matabeleland South resulting in thieves breaking into the premises and stealing two solar panels and a battery have approached the High Court challenging their superiors' decision.

Constables Arthur Baro and Lloyd Mandimutsira were ordered to pay $1 000 each to compensate for the stolen solar panels and battery.

They were jointly charged for negligently losing State property in violation of the Police Act.

They were convicted and fined $1 000 each.The money will be deducted from their salaries or terminal benefits by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

Aggrieved by the outcome of the trial proceedings, Constables Baro and Mandimutsira, through their lawyers Mlweli Ndlovu and Associates, filed an application for review at the Bulawayo High Court.  

In papers before the court, superintendent Sondasi Muunga, who presided over the trial and the State were cited as respondents. The two cops want an order nullifying the decision of the trial court, arguing that the trial was not fair.

In his founding affidavit, Const Baro said they were not afforded a chance to be heard.

"We were ordered to write reports on the circumstances leading to the property being stolen. The board of inquiry then sat and made findings based on those reports and concluded that we were guilty," he said.

"We were only notified of the decision of the board of inquiry when we were served with the copies of the outcome and ordered to sign."

Const Baro said they applied for Supt Muunga to recuse himself from presiding over the matter on the basis that he was part of the board inquiry that deliberated upon the same case and convicted them.

 The application was dismissed. The two cops said the refusal by Supt Muunga to recuse himself was a violation of their constitutional right to a free and fair trial.

According to papers in court, Constables Baro and Mandimutsira who are stationed at Guyu Police Station, were deployed to Selonga base in Gwanda district on patrol.  It was stated that on December 7 last year at about 8.30PM, they were manning the base when they later decided to leave the place unattended. Upon their return to the base, about 30 minutes later, they found two solar panels and a 12 volts battery missing.

They combed the area but failed to locate the stolen property. They then filed a report of unlawful entry and theft. Investigations were carried out leading to the recovery of solar panel stands only near Selonga Dam. The respondents are yet to respond to the application.

Source - chroncile