HARARE – A police recruit was removed from training because of a permanent stammer, a court heard.
Vengai Chikurungeni was forced to abandon his dream career just a month into his training at Morris Dept in Harare after police bosses decided he would not be able to execute his job because of his speech difficulties.
Chikurungeni’s bid to overturn the decision has failed at the Harare High Court, however, after a judge ruled that he filed his application out of time.
Justice Owen Tagu ruled: “Rule 62 of the High Court Rules, 2021, deals with reviews. In particular r (62) (4) provides: ‘(4) Any proceedings by way of review shall be instituted within eight weeks of the termination of the suit, action or proceedings in which the irregularity or illegality complained of is alleged to have occurred: Provided that the court may for good cause shown extend the time.’
“Accordingly, it is trite that an application for review must be filed within eight weeks of the termination of the suit, action or proceedings in which the irregularity or illegality complained of is alleged to have occurred.
“The applicant averred that on January 31, 2022, he was called by an Inspector Gwaka who gave him a letter of termination of employment which was backdated or dated December 28, 2021, and he signed it.”
Chikurungeni, who was suing the Police Commissioner General and the Police Service Commission, had denied that he was discharged on December 28, 2021, maintaining that he was asked to sign a backdated document.
He did not have proof when the judge asked him to provide it.
Justice Tagu noted that in particular, the police and the commission had produced evidence by way of a radio communication on December 23, 2021, advising Chikurungeni of the decision to discharge him from the police service.
“Going by that document, the applicant was advised of his fate as early as December 23, 2021. The applicant filed the present application on March 29, 2022, way out of the eight weeks period,” the judge said.
“Other than his mere say so, he could not provide proof of his averments. On the other hand, the respondents managed to produce documentary evidence capturing the proceedings leading to the discharge of the applicant.”
Chikurungeni joined the Zimbabwe Republic Police on August 27, 2021, as a trainee.
The High Court heard that in September 2021, he was called by Inspector Gwaka who told him that he was not fit to be a police officer because of his speech impediment.
In October 2021, he was called by an unidentified training commander who asked him if he had a speech problem, which Chikurungeni allegedly confirmed.
In December 2021, he was called by a Dr. Nyakudya who said that he wanted to examine if his condition would allow him to remain in the police service. He was duly examined and told results would be communicated later.
On January 31, 2022, he was called by Inspector Gwaka who gave him a letter of termination of employment which was “backdated or dated” December 28, 2021, and was asked to sign it. He complied but later decided to appeal.