Saturday, 23 June 2018

EIGHT SUSPENDED OFFICERS TAKE MPOFU TO COURT

EIGHT immigration officers who were suspended for allegedly receiving bribes from foreigners to alter visas have taken the Minister of Home Affairs and Culture Dr Obert Mpofu to court challenging their suspension and looming disciplinary hearings.

Vincent Shoshore, Shillah Ndavani, Shepherd Gombwe, Simbarashe Nyamukachi, Joseph Raungana, Tichaona Munemo, Ruth Patience Mutasa and Misheck Chizema through their lawyers Ncube and Partners, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court.

The eight were suspended following their arrest in May last year at Victoria Falls border post, Kazungula border post and Victoria Falls International Airport.

In their application they cited Dr Mpofu, the Principal Director of Immigration Control, Mr Clemence Masango, the Secretary of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Ms Pretty Sunguro, the paymaster of the Salary Services Bureau, Mr Brighton Chiuzingo and one Mr K Makiwa, who is the director of pensions in the PSC as respondents.

The eight want an order nullifying their suspensions and directing Dr Mpofu to cancel looming disciplinary hearings against them. They were suspended without pay and benefits.

In their affidavits, the immigration officers led by Ms Ndavani said the letters written to them by their bosses preferring charges of misconduct against them should be declared unlawful.

“This is an application to declare unlawful and therefore null and void the letter purporting to prefer charges of misconduct against us. The letter was dated 7th May 2018 and authored by the secretary in the Office of the Minister of Home Affairs and Culture. The basis of the application is that the charge sheets we received differ materially from suspension letters in violation of the law, particularly the constitution of Zimbabwe, the Labour Act and the Administrative Justice Act,” said Ms Ndavani in her founding affidavit.
“It is accepted that the employer can charge us without suspending us. If that is the route that the employer is taking then they have to lift the previous suspension orders and reinstate us without loss of pay and benefits.”

Ms Ndavani said there has been an inordinate delay in finalising the disciplinary process.
“A period of 12 months cannot by any stretch of imagination be deemed to be a reasonable period. To make matters worse, the suspension order has been extended four times and we are not being paid salaries and this is adversely affecting our livelihoods,” she said.

The immigration officers were arrested on fraud charges at their workplaces following an audit at the three ports of entry. The matter is still pending before the court.

Allegations are that the immigration officers, acting separately, attended to visitors from different countries and recorded lesser amounts in receipt books and pocketed the difference thereby prejudicing the State of varying amounts of money.

British, American and Canadian visitors pay $55, $30, and $75 respectively for a single entry visa and the accused would allegedly record everyone as American and pocket the difference.
It is alleged that the crime had been happening for some time until recently when authorities within the Immigration Department noted some irregularities and launched an investigation into the visa scam. Chronicle 

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