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Cop challenges Chihuri

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A Bulawayo police officer who was allegedly caned 56 strokes for deserting guard at Chiadzwa diamond mine to look for relish in villages before his subsequent dismissal has approached the High Court for his matter to heard.

Lament Mafuta filed his application for review of his disciplinary proceedings two years ago, but the matter has not been heard despite an application made last year, prompting his lawyers, Khumalo and Company Attorneys to request relief from the hearing date last week.

Police Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri, hearing officer, Superintendent Rigomeka of Mutare, Home Affairs co-ministers Theresa Makone and Kembo Mohadi and the Police Board of Inquiry were cited as first, second, third and fourth respondents.

The policeman is seeking an order setting aside his disciplinary proceedings held in Mutare in February 2009, but the application is opposed by Chihuri who submitted that Mafuta’s claims were a bare and unsubstantial framework of words.

In his application, Mafuta said the hearing proceedings were grossly irregular and were conducted in direct breach of the Act and constitutional right to fair trial.

“The proceedings commenced about midday on the 3rd of February 2009 up to 1900 hours that same day and the matter was adjourned to the following day. At about 12 midnight, the Applicant and his co-accused were collected from the holdings cells and advised that an instruction had been conveyed from Harare that proceedings should be completed that same night.”

He said the trial resumed and ended at 2pm with the applicant and his co-accused getting 15 days’ imprisonment served at Chikurubi holding cells.

“These proceedings were conducted in direct breach of the enabling Act and in breach of the Applicant’s constitutional right to a fair trial,” submitted Mafuta.
He also said the corporal punishment of 56 strokes which was ordered by Chihuri’s subordinates was wrongful and unlawful and amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

“Applicant was refused the right of appeal before incarceration in direct breach on the enabling Police Act which provides for the suspension of the sentence pending determination of the appeal by the commissioner. When Applicant indicated his intention to appeal, he was advised that he would appeal whilst serving in prison.”

He said his dismissal by the board of inquiry had no effect since one of the line commanders, Superintendent Mtandwa, who approved his caning did not sit to discuss his suitability in the force in light of the events that unfolded.

On January 10 2009, Mafuta was deployed in the Marange diamond mining area of Chiadzwa in an operation code-named Hakudzokwi phase 2 under the overall command of a Chief Superintendent Nganunu.

His problems started on January 27 2009, when in the company of other officers, he left the base to look for relish after spending three days without proper meals as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which was sponsoring the operation, could not constantly supply food. During their absence illegal diamond miners allegedly flooded the mine they were guarding.

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