High Court re-instates prison warden fired after inmates’ food vanished

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By Staff Reporter

HARARE: A prison officer who was fired in 2019 after inmates’ food rations went missing has been reinstated by High court judge Justice Catherine Bhachi Muzawazi.

Rhoda Mawadze will finally return to work after authorities failed to establish who the culprit was.

The judge said there was no reason for holding Mawadze accountable without evidence adding that she was also unproceduraly fired.

The court found the administrative decision grossly irregular and, accordingly, dismissed the point in limine and upheld the applicant’s claim in terms of the draft order sought,” said the judge.

“Resultantly, it is ordered that, the decision handed down by the first respondent on the 12 of May 2019 be and is hereby quashed and set aside.

The applicant be and is hereby immediately reinstated to her employment without loss of salary,” she ruled also slapping the prisons with costs.

The matter spilled into courts after Muzawazi appealed against her dismissal, with her application citing prisons chief superintendent Tawanda Chimika, Commissioner General ZPCS Moses Chihobvu and Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe as respondents.

Court heard that Mawadze and another staffer were employed as rations officers before they were fired on allegations of contravening numerous sections of the Rules and Regulations governing Prisons officials.

Mawadze was the rations officer in-charge, sharing her duties with two others.

Several food rations meant for allocation and distribution to prison inmates reportedly went missing between 1 August 2018 and 12 December 2018.

In her defence, Mawadza said during that period, she had been allocated additional duties which saw her working outside the prison premises most of the time.

She also said several people had access to the food stores during the same period adding that buildings housing the food stores were not well secured, and had broken window panes and roof.

Court also heard there was no proper record keeping and accounting of stocks, their distribution and or handover takeover.

However, a disciplinary committee, chaired by chief superintendent Chimika found Muzawazi and the other officer guilty of the two counts proffered and made recommendations for her dismissal.

Mawadze said the decision was grossly irregular.

In her ruling, justice Muzawazi said she was satisfied that the literal construction of the allegedly violated rules did not make the appeal route mandatory but optional.

She said after the disciplinary hearing, authorities should have given Mawadze another chance.

They should have taken the flaws that were highlighted in evidence as a learning curve and a chance to re-evaluate and improve the inefficiencies in the system instead of taking a defensive strategy of penalising the small fish who brought the whole inefficacies and saga to light,” she ruled.