COMMISSIONER-GENERAL of Police, Augustine Chihuri, was on Monday given a 14-day ultimatum to pay $58 131 in terminal benefits to a former top officer, failure of which he will be jailed for 30 days for contempt of court.
BY CHARLES LAITON
High Court judge, Justice Jester Helena Charehwa, ruled in favour of the former officer, Anatos Mpofu, who had approached the court seeking an order to compel Chihuri and the Police Service Commission to pay him his outstanding terminal benefits.
“That the first respondent (Chihuri) be directed to comply with the order of the High Court number HC09/11 within 14 days from the date of order. In the event of first respondent failing to comply with paragraph (1), that the respondent be held to be in contempt of court and be imprisoned for a period of 30 days,” Justice Charehwa ruled, slapping Chihuri with costs on a high scale.
In his application, Mpofu accused Chihuri and an Assistant Commissioner Nzombe of having misrepresented facts in an attempt to frustrate payment of his terminal benefits.
According to Mpofu, Chihuri was ordered to pay him his dues in 2010. But despite the existence of a valid court order, the Commissioner-General had not complied with the ruling and instead attempted to trick him into accepting an amount that had not been ordered by the court.
“I obtained an order against first respondent (Chihuri) that he should effect payment of damages to me in lieu of reinstatement in the sum of $58 131 being arrear salaries, bonuses, accommodation, leave days and medical services, a lump sum pension of $6 101 and monthly pension of $97 until my death plus cost of suit,” Mpofu said.
“Be that as it may, notwithstanding the clear and unambiguous wording of the said High Court order and judgment, the first respondent (Chihuri) has incessantly breached the same with impunity, as it were, much to my frustration.”
After the ruling of the court, almost seven years ago, Mpofu said Chihuri, through his representative, Nzombe, made an arrangement with his lawyer, from Wintertons Legal Practitioners, for him to go to the Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) to sign papers to facilitate payment of the damages as awarded in the judgment.
Mpofu said Nzombe personally made him to believe that by accepting a lump sum from the government pension fund, he was agreeing to a payment plan for the awarded damages the balance of which was to be paid monthly for four months by the police finance department.
“I then accepted and was given $4 534, 54 from the Salaries Service Bureau (SSB) and a lump sum of $7 506, 78 from the government pension fund. I later discovered that I had been tricked into accepting these amounts only and not the $58 131 that had been awarded to me,” he said.
“I only received amounts calculated from 2009 to September 2010. The payment between January 2000 and 2009 before dollarisation was not paid. The judgment was in United States dollars.
“I am informed that the first respondent’s actions, together with those of Assistant Commissioner Nzombe are contrary to section 3 of the Administrative Act… to this end the first respondent and the Assistant Commissioner deliberately ignored that and acted against the order and judgment of the court, which I strongly believe by doing so the respondent is in contempt of court and must be charged with same.”