ZPCS ignores ‘traitorous’ prison officer’s appeal

By Clayton Shereni

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi is yet to respond to the appeal of Chiredzi-based prison officer, John Mahlabera who was convicted and dismissed from the service on November 05, 2018, for allegedly undermining President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Twitter.

Mahlabera, who is being represented by Collen Maboke of Ruvengo, Maboke and Company, appealed the verdict passed by the ZPCS trial board but has not received any response from Zimondi.

Maboke confirmed writing to Zimondi but has said he was now starting to doubt the appeal will be responded to considering the time which has passed.

“We successfully filed an appeal with the ZPCS Commissioner General on November 06, 2018, but up to now we haven’t received any form of response from him and we doubt if he is going to respond,” said Maboke.

In his appeal, Mahlabera seeks wants Zimondi to overturn his conviction, or to get another punishment which will allow him to go back to work.

“If the conviction fails to be overturned, Applicant prays that the sentence of dismissal be reversed and replaced with a sentence of a severe reprimand,” reads part of the appeal.

The prison officer hogged the limelight in the run up to the July 30 harmonized elections when he allegedly wrote on his Twitter account, “Come to Chiredzi my President” in response to a tweet on Chamisa’s massive rally at Jerera gowth point in Zaka.

Chamisa latter went to Chiredzi for a rally, at which he called Mahlabera onto the podium and defended his right to free speech, criticizing authorities for persecuting him.

The opposition leader also said Mahlabera was free to join his security team if he felt unwanted by the ZPCS.

Mahlabera was first charged for contravening Section 3(1) or alternatively 3(46) of the Prison Staff Discipline Regulation of 1984.

On the second count, he was charged for contravening Section 3(46) of Prisons (Staff)(Disciplinary) Regulations 1984 for being guilty of any other act, conduct, disorder or neglect of duty to the prejudice of good conduct or discipline as read with section 19(a-g) of Staff General Regulations 1968.

He was found guilty on both charges and was therefore convicted and was dismissed from his job as a prison officer.

Mahlabera is not the only security in Masvingo to be tried for allegedly supporting Nelson Chamisa, with Constable Tobias Banda being tried by the police for undermining President Mnangagwa on August 07, 2018, at Phoenix Bar Canteen in the presence of Assistant Commissioner Crispen Makedenge and Assistant Inspector Edmos Saranavo.