Blessings Chidakwa-Municipal Reporter
Harare City Council has sent its chief security officer Dr Collen Tongoona on leave pending investigations into allegations that he unlawfully took possession of a council firearm from the municipal police for personal security without authority or approval from his boss.
Dr Tongoona went on paid leave from June 30 for carrying the council firearm, pistol number 1291668. Because criminal charges have been laid over what happened when the pistol was in his possession regarding safety and other issues, he has to stay on leave until the matter has been resolved. He also has to be available for potential disciplinary inquiries and hearings.
In the letter sending Dr Tongoona on leave, acting chamber secretary Mr Warren Chiwawa said the firearm was intended for cash in transit duties and for protection of council premises not for personal security of officials in the municipal section.
Mr Chiwawa was also worried about the security of the pistol.
“Furthermore, it is alleged that you then exposed the firearm to insecurity and possible abuse when your son gained access to pistol serial number 313337 that was being kept together with the council firearm pistol number 1291668, to commit the offence of pointing firearm.
“There was a high possibility of council firearms being used to commit offences due to insecure keeping by yourself notwithstanding that you had obtained it illegally without due authority,” he said.
The council has a policy, reinforced by a directive from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, that all employees facing criminal charges must not be allowed to report for work until the matter is finalised.
Dr Tongoona had to cooperate fully with council’s management when instructed. He was warned that the council was instituting internal investigations on the allegations for a possible disciplinary process and that he was required to co-operate.
While on paid leave he was expected to be accessible but was forbidden to “visit your place of work or other council premises, unless with the express approval of your head of department in consultation with the human capital director”.
Dr Tongoona was advised that his usual leave benefits would not be affected by the current paid leave.
Besides the Local Government ministry directive that no-one facing criminal charges can continue day-to-day work, Permanent Secretary for Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mr Tafadzwa Muguti says this also means that any official out on bail should not be allowed back at work until their cases have been cleared by the courts.