As the cat and mouse chase between government and police officers stationed at Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s office continues, government seems hell bent on punishing the officers for alleged absenteeism.
On Wednesday, Malawi Police Service (MPS), through Director of Human Resource Management Joseph Chambuluka, wrote the affected 40 officers informing them that they have been interdicted for absenteeism.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed that the service issued the interdiction letter, but declined to state why the interdiction was effected when there is a court order against transferring them from the Veep’s office.
“What you have seen is true. The concerned officers were communicated to on the interdiction, but I cannot say anything further than that,” he said.
But a lawyer representing the 40 security officers, Bright Theu, has obtained an injunction restraining MPS from effecting the move.
In the interdiction letter wire messaged to the concerned officers, which The Nation has seen, Chambuluka writes: “Be informed that the following have been interdicted from duty on half pay with effect from 9 January 2019 pending completion of a disciplinary case of absenting oneself without leave contrary to Section 3 of the Police Officers Schedule to Section 52 of the Police Act.”
The interdiction came barely hours after MPS invited the concerned officers for a disciplinary hearing which never took place because there was an order stopping it. The injunction referred to an earlier order which restricted the police from having a hearing because of another September 2018 court order.
According to a court order dated September 30 2018 served to MPS, in judicial review case number 49 between the Vice-President and Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose, until an inter partes hearing takes place, the security detail should continue with their job.
The order further gave a Penal notice which said any officer or employees who did not obey the order would be guilty of contempt of court and may be charged or sent to prison.
Theu said they already filed for contempt of court because the police failed to abide by the law, and they are waiting for a date for the hearing.
According to Theu, the IG wanted to change the Veep’s security detail by redeploying 40 of the officers, which was challenged and settled by agreement that they would not change the security detail.
Said Theu: “A second judicial challenge was lodged, the court stayed and suspended this second posting decision as well. Despite the court order suspending the decision, the IG issued another communication that his suspended decision still stands. We filed for contempt of court and the application is pending a hearing date.”
The new court order issued yesterday states that whoever does anything contrary to the order will be liable for contempt.
Barely days after Chilima unpacked his political mission last July to challenge President Peter Mutharika’s governing Democratic Progressive Party on a UTM ticket in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, government reviewed his security detail, but was later stopped by court a order.