FOLLOWING a hard day’s work that spilled into the night after a colleague who was supposed to take over for the night duty did not turn up, Joseph Chifuvachengwe (46), a police constable then on duty at Gweru Central Police Station, had to double the work and would only knock-off the following morning.
But with fatigue and lethargy from working for such prolonged hours having a toll on Chifuvachengwe as the night wore on, risking committing a dismissible offence of taking a nap on duty became inevitable.
“After several attempts trying to shake-off the lethargy by washing my face with cold water and walking aimlessly in the charge office, I eventually succumbed to fatigue during the wee hours of the following morning and I took a nap,” said Chifuvachengwe.
It was this doze that cost his job. The slumber that seemed even to have sealed his fate and probably his future!
He was found in deep slumber by his superiors and was immediately charged under the police disciplinary code.
After trying to save his job, fighting all the way to the courts and even after getting a reprieve from the court of law, the employer remained adamant, relentlessly raising a red flag.
Eventually, Chifuvachengwe was dismissed from the force by a police disciplinary panel for contravening a section of the Police Act, “Sleeping on Duty”.
“I went back to the courts and the police were forced to reinstate me. I, however, decided to retire on gratuity in 2003 because my work environment was not conducive. I continued to be harassed and thought it was wise to quit the police force and peruse other avenues of life,” says Chifuvachengwe.
After the hostile working environment forced him to retire early from the police force, Chifuvachengwe dusted himself up and tried to pick up the pieces by enrolling for a teacher training course, hoping for a better future.
He committed another three years training as a teacher with Mkoba Teacher’s College in Gweru between 2008 and 2010 after which he was deployed to the remote Gokwe district as a qualified primary school teacher.
But alas, it was not to be a beginning of a new chapter in Chifuvachengwe’s carrier life. Far from it!
When he left the police force he was blacklisted and it meant he would not be employed in any Zimbabwean Government institution.
“Both myself and the Public Service Commission were caught unawares. After teaching for a year between 2011 and 2012, I did not get my salary but my new employer (the PSC) insisted that they had done everything for me to be under the Ministry of Education payroll,” narrated Chifuvachengwe.
He says he got the shock of his life when he eventually discovered that he was blacklisted following his “sleeping on duty” dismissal by the police.
“It was after failing to get my pay for at least one year when I discovered that the education ministry was still seeking to get me cleared with the police so that I could be re-engaged into the Public Service Commission. Officials from the ministry advised me to apply for a clearance from the ZRP and when I did, this was when I realised the force had blacklisted me for reasons best known to them,” says
Chifuvachengwe is now a street vendor.
One of the recommendation letters shown to Zimpapers Syndication which the police wrote to the PSC when Chifuvachengwe sought clearance reads:
“Please be advised that ex-constable Joseph Chifuvachengwe was attested into the force on 4th of January 1993 and he retired “on gratuity” on 31 January 2003 after 10 years 28 days service.
“His disciplinary record with the police force reflects as follows: on 13th September 1996 at ZRP Gweru District Headquarters, he was convicted on a charge of contravening Paragraph 16 of the Schedule to
the Police Act no. 2 /95 as read with Section 34 of the said Act, “Sleeping on Duty”.
“This headquarters therefore does not recommend ex-constable Chifuvachengwe’s appointment into the Public Service due to his involvement in a case involving dishonesty.”
The letter was signed by a Senior Assistant Commissioner E Moyo.
This is the letter that seems to have put the final nail on Chifuvachengwe’s coffin.
His hopes of a career as an educationist, especially in Government, was shattered.
It is this letter of doom that probably condemned Chifuvachengwe into admitting and submitting to his fate.
Chifuvachengwe seems to have succumbed to that fate and today, he is a devastated soul, about five years after his fate was sealed and he is still to get over it. He is still to pick himself up. He is hopeless and has turned to vending.
With a family to look after, Chifuvachengwe is now eking out a living through vending, selling airtime and sweets.
“I am hopeless, the challenge is that I trained as a primary school teacher and in Zimbabwe there are few private schools for primary grades. If I had a diploma in secondary school teaching, I could have ventured into private practice,” he narrated mournfully.
Chifuvachengwe says vending was not helping him much, adding that he and his family were wallowing in poverty.
“I have a friend of mine in South Africa who recently phoned and told me that there were better chances of me getting a job in the education sector there and now that schools are closed I will be going to South Africa to try my luck there,” he said.
— Zimpapers Syndication