Two of the four police officers who were recently dismissed from the Zambia Police Service after the Sesheke parliamentary by-election have applied for leave to commence judicial review proceedings in the Lusaka High Court against the State’s decision to retire them in public interest.
The dismissed cops are seeking for a declaration and order that their retirement in public interest does not conform with the provisions of the Service Commission Act Chapter 259 of the laws of Zambia and as such is manifestly illegal, unreasonable, procedurally improper and unconstitutional.
The duo are further seeking for an Order of Certiorari to quash the decision of the Inspector General of Police under the hand of his Senior Executive Officer to retire them in public interest, among other reliefs.
In February this year, the Police Service Commission fired four officers from Sesheke for allegedly beating up violent PF cadres during the parliamentary by-elections in that area.
The dismissed senior officers included: senior superintendent officer commanding Sesheke District Shapa Wakunguma; second officer commanding Sesheke District Chilongo Fleming; assistant superintendent in charge of Sesheke Police Station Lengwe Borniface and Constable Mukela Fridric of Sesheke Police Station.
However, only Wakunguma and Chilongo have decided to seek judicial review over their dismissal.
Wakunguma and Chilongo as first and second applicants, respectively, have cited the Attorney General as the respondent.
According to an originating notice of motion for an order of certiorari filed in the Lusaka High Court, the duo are also seeking the following reliefs: an Order of Prohibition restraining the respondent from retiring them in national or public interest and a hearing of their application before the Puisne (ordinary) Judge of the High Court.
The duo also want, if leave to apply for judicial review is granted, a direction that such grant should operate as a stay of the said decision of the respondent, an order for costs, among other reliefs.
The grounds on which the duo are seeking the reliefs are that of illegality and procedural impropriety.
“(i) The decision of the respondent dated February 16, 2019, to declare the applicants as retired in national and/or public interest is illegal and as such void ab initio; as the applicants have at no time ever misconducted themselves in any way, especially in relation to the Sesheke by-election held on February 12, 2019; (ii) The decision of the Inspector General of Police is illegal and void ab initio because it is not informed by cogent evidence or any evidence whatsoever of the applicants having misconducted themselves to warrant retirement in public and/or national interest and in the circumstances, the decision is illegal and void ab initio,” read the notice.
“(iii) It is contended that it is mandatory that there has to be a formal inquiry launched into the purported misconduct of the applicants before purported retirement in public interest can be effected as against the applicants.”
And in their affidavit in support of ex parte summons for leave to apply for judicial review, Wakunguma and Chilongo explained that they were Zambian nationals ordinarily resident at Chelstone Police Camp and Sikanze Camp, in Lusaka, respectively.
They further stated that they were until February 16, this year, employed in the Zambia Police Service as a senior superintendent in charge of the Sesheke District in Western Province and as superintendent, respectively.
The duo stated that during the period of the Sesheke Central parliamentary by-election, Wakunguma served as commander of sector five per an operational order issued by the provincial commanding officer to maintain peace during the by election from January 8 until February 14, while Chilongo served in the capacity of deputy commander in respect of sector one.
They stated that despite Wakunguma’s designation as commander, he did not assume command as his deputy commander was given operational commander of the said sector five, with full communication authority.
Wakunguma explained that while driving to Sesheke Police Station on February 12, he was flagged down by the Minister of National Planning Alexander Chiteme who was in the company of the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Western Province Danny Bukali.
He stated that he was requested to go to the scene of alleged police brutality involving PF cadres, adding that when he got there, he found a number of individuals laying on the ground after being severely assaulted by the officers.
“I was requested by the said Minister and Deputy Permanent Secretary to go to the scene of an incident of alleged police brutality involving alleged Patriotic Front cadres at a known location called Council Guest House. I proceeded to the said Council Guest House where I found a number of individuals laying on the ground having being severely assaulted, while tear gas canisters had been discharged in the said location,” read the affidavit.
Wakunguma stated that he personally ordered the officers on site to immediately stop assaulting the suspected Patriotic Front cadres.
He added that the suspected assailants were individuals he personally identified as being from Kamfinsa Police Training College.
“That as the suspected assailants were individuals I personally identified as being from the Kamfinsa Police Training College, I proceeded to inform one of the commanders in charge of the said police officers, chief inspector Lifasi and proceeded to provide transport to the alleged victims who were given medical reports at my instance at the Sesheke Police Station in order for them to seek medical treatment and to make criminal complaints against their alleged assailants,” the affidavit read.
Wakunguma stated that following the incident, a meeting was held at which senior members of the Patriotic Front in the District demanded to know why their cadres were assaulted by police officers.
He stated that in addition, the said meeting was attended by the Minister of Home Affairs Steven Kampyongo, Chiteme, the Provincial Commissioner of Police for Western Province, and several senior officers in the Province.
Wakunguma stated that police officers present at the scene of the alleged assault explained the circumstances leading to the use of force as against the PF cadres, explaining that they had been confronted by armed cadres at the Sesheke Police Station.
He disclosed that he came to learn of a statement attributed to the Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja stating clearly that all officers who took part in the assault of cadres would be dismissed from the Police Service.
Wakunguma stated that he later picked up a letter 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.
On the other hand, Chilongo explained that he was deployed at Imusho ward from January 11 to February 13 to maintain law and order in the area, which was approximately 250 Kilometres from Sesheke District and the scene of the alleged assault of PF cadres.
He stated that on February 16, media reports began to circulate on print, electronic and social media that the duo had been retired from the Police Service in national interest.
“That I received a message form on the same day stating very clearly that all the applicants herein had been retired in national interest. That I later received another Zambia Police Service message stating that I had in fact been retired in public interest,” read the affidavit.
The applicants disclosed that they had never been personally questioned in respect of any alleged misconduct relating to the Sesheke by-election by any superior officer of the Zambia Police Service, nor charged with any offence or alleged misconduct.
They stated that the said retirement in national or public interest had come with a sense of shock to them because as at no point in time did they misconduct themselves in any manner as police officers.
“That we are advised by counsel and verily believe that this is a fit and proper case for this Honourable Court to grant we, the applicants, leave to commence judicial review proceedings as against the respondent. That we have equally been advised by counsel that this is a fit and proper case for this Honourable Court to exercise its discretion in granting such leave and that the said leave act as a stay of the decision to retire us in national and/or public interest,” read the affidavit.