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Fired Sesheke cops challenge IG decision in High Court

FORMER senior superintendent in-charge of Sesheke district Shapa Wakung’uma and superintendent Fleming Chilongo have applied for leave to commence judicial review proceedings in the Lusaka High Court to challenge the decision of the Inspector General of Police Kanganja to retire them in national or public interest.

Wakung’uma and Chilongo have argued that their retirement was illegal, unreasonable, procedurally improper and unconstitutional.

The applicants who have cited the Attorney General, are seeking a declaration and order that the purported decision by the Inspector General of police under the hand of his senior executive officer of February 16, 2019 and communicated to them by a letter dated February 18, 2019 to retire them in national interest or public interest does not conform with the provisions of the Service Commissions Act of 2016 of the laws of Zambia and the Prisons and Service Commission Regulations as provided for under Statutory Instrument number 65 of 1976 and as such is manifestly illegal.

Wakung’uma and Chilongo are seeking an order of certiorari for the purpose of quashing the decisions of Kanganja and a further order of prohibition restraining the IG from retiring them in national or public interest.

According to a joint affidavit in support of ex-parte summons for leave to apply for judicial review filed in the Lusaka High Court, Wakung’uma and Chilongo have stated that their retirement in national or public interest has come with a sense of shock to them as at no point in time have they misconducted themselves in any way or manner as police officers.

They also stated that at no time have they ever been personally questioned in respect of any alleged misconduct relating to the Sesheke by-election by any superior officer in the Zambia Police Service.

“That in equal measures, none of the applicants herein have ever been charged with any offence or alleged misconduct relating to the Sesheke by-election and at no point in time have any of the applicants herein been asked to exculpate themselves in relation to the said by-election and/or related incidences arising out of the said by-election,” the statement read in part.

The applicants further stated that they have been advised by their counsel and verily believe that this was a fit and proper case for the court to exercise its discretion in granting such leave and that it should act as a stay of the decision to retire them in national or public interest and proceedings be expedited.

The applicants stated that the Sesheke parliamentary by-election was held on February 12, 2019 during which period Wakung’uma served as commander of sector five per an operation order issued by the provincial commanding officer which order directed the commencement of the operation to maintain peace during the by-election from January 8 until February 14, 2019 while Chilongo served in the capacity of deputy commander in respect of sector one.

They stated that despite Wakung’uma’s designation as commander, he did not assume command of the said sector as his deputy commander was given operations commander of the said sector five with full communications authority.

The applicants stated that Wakung’uma on February 12, 2019, while driving to Sesheke police station, he was flagged down by the Minister of National Planning Alexander Chiteme who was in the company of deputy permanent secretary for Western Province a Mr Bukali and he was requested by the duo to go to the scene of an incident of alleged police brutality involving alleged PF cadres at a place called Council Guest House.

Wakung’uma stated that he proceeded to the Council Guest House and found a number of individuals laying on the ground having been severely assaulted while teargas being discharged in the location and he personally ordered the officers on site to immediately stop assaulting the suspected PF cadres.

He stated that the suspected assailants were individuals he personally identified as being from Kamfinsa Police Training College having served as operations officer at Kamfinsa.

Wakung’uma stated that the assaulted cadres were taken to Sesheke police station where they were given medical reports to seek medical treatment and to make criminal complaints against their alleged assailants.

Wakung’uma stated that on February 13, 2019, Police Commission chairperson Peter Chingaipe arrived in Sesheke on a fact-finding mission concerning what had transpired on February 12 but him and Chilongo were not privy to the discussions at the said meeting held on that day.

They stated that after that meeting, instructions from the provincial commissioner of police a Mr Lungu were issued to the effect that an identification parade was to be held in which some PF cadres would identify the officers who were involved in the acts of assaulting them.

“On 14th February, 2019, police officers were assembled at 08:00 hours in the morning for the commencement of the identification parade but the exercise was later abandoned before commencing without any reasons being advanced by the superior officers,” the applicants stated.

They stated that Chilongo was deployed at Imusho ward, which was designated under sector one from January 11 to February 13, 2019 in order to maintain law and order in the area approximately 250 kilometers from Sesheke and the scene of the alleged assault of PF cadres.

They stated further that on February 16, 2019, media reports began to circulate on both print, electronic and social media that he and Chilongo had been retired from the police in national interest.

They stated that Wakung’uma received a form on the same day, stating clearly that all the applicants had been retired in national interest and later received another Zambia Police Service message stating that he had in fact been retired in national interest.

The applicants stated that Wakung’uma picked up a letter dated February 18, 2019 on March 8,2019 from the deputy provincial commissioner of police informing him of his retirement in public interest written under the hand of the senior executive officer of the Inspector General of Police.

Wakung’uma and Chilongo have stated that no prejudice would be occasioned if they were granted leave for judicial review and that conversely the interest of justice would be served.

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