BULAWAYO – Four policewomen stationed at Bulawayo Central Police Station have appeared before an internal disciplinary hearing for allegedly failing a police promotion examination.
Constables Tsitsi Gwashure, Olivia Mugudubi, Loveness Chitsa and Sazini Sibanda are being charged with Chapter 11:10 of the Police Act as read with Section 34 of the same Act (performing duty in an improper manner).
The police force conducted promotion examinations for its members in June this year which the four allegedly either failed to write or pass and were taken to a hearing.
According to court documents, Constables Gwashure, Mugudubi, Chitsa and Sibanda made an application at the High Court in Bulawayo Case Number 2133/13 seeking the court’s determination whether failing a police promotion examination or failing to write the examination is an act of misconduct.
Cst Sibanda is being charged with contravening paragraph 11 of the Police Act Chapter 11:10 (without good or sufficient cause disobeying a lawful order written or otherwise) because she did not write the examination.
She was reportedly on maternity leave when her colleagues wrote the examination. The other three reportedly wrote and failed the examination.
The four cited Police Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri and the Officer Commanding Police in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Mutamba as 1st and 2nd respondents.
Constables Gwashure, Mugudubi, Chitsa and Sibanda, through their lawyer Mr Tungamirai Nyengera of Mcijo, Dube and Partners, argue that a promotion examination does not fall within the ambit of discipline of the police force but is a motivational exercise.
They submitted that it has never happened in the history of the police force that members are charged with misconduct for failing a promotion examination. The four constables argued that the promotion examination is not mandatory.
They submitted that the decision of their superiors has far reaching consequences which if not nipped in the bud, would result in loss of employment by members.
“All members of ZRP are not gifted with the same level of intelligence to pass every promotional examination. With that in mind, I would want to believe that such an examination is a screening exercise meant to reduce prospective promotional aspirants.
“It is my humble submission that the police are neither a legislative body nor an extension of Parliament to create crimes of misconduct from the Police Act. It would be unfair for the 1st and 2nd respondents to set precedent when such an exercise was neither punishable nor mandatory,” read part of the affidavit.
The four constables are seeking an order directing the police force not to charge them for failing to write or pass the examination, arguing that it does not amount to a contravention of the Police Act.
It is their prayer that the court declare null and void the decision of their superiors to charge them.
The charge sheet attached to the court file read in part:
“The accused is ordered to appear before the court of an officer or board of officers at PHQ Central on 27 August 2013 at 10.30am to answer the charges of contravening paragraph (34) of the schedule to the Police Act, Chapter 11:10.
“ARW Section 34 of the said Act ‘performing duty in an improper manner’ in that on 30 June 2013 at ZRP Bulawayo Central Police Station, the accused, being a member of the force, did wrongfully and unlawfully perform duty in an improper manner.
“That is to say the defaulter wrote his/her 2013 open book examination which he/she submitted on 30 June 2013. The defaulter was supposed to pass the examination but however, failed thus performing duty in an improper manner.”
The matter has not been heard in court.