‘Prisons boss, ex-inmate love affair legal’

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A FEMALE Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) boss based at Khami Prison has been exonerated of any wrongdoing by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Munodawafa Takuva after she was fired for allegedly engaging in a love affair with an ex-inmate.

SENIOR COURT REPORTER

Principal prison officer Sithembile Masuku (46) was fired from the ZPCS in March after a disciplinary hearing for allegedly having an affair with Douglas Denga, who was once incarcerated at Khami Prison for an undisclosed offence.

However, Masuku approached the High Court through her lawyer Zibusiso Ncube of Calderwood, Bryce Hendrie and Partners Legal Practitioners challenging her conviction by an internal disciplinary panel chaired by a Superintendent C Chidarikire whom she accused of being biased against her.

Chidarikire and ZPCS were cited as the first and second respondents respectively. After hearing the arguments, Justice Takuva found in favour of Masuku ruling that her affair was not in breach of the Prisons Act.

“It is ordered that: The ruling of the first respondent in the disciplinary matter involving applicant dismissing the applicant for discharge at the close of the State case be and is hereby set aside and in its place it is ordered that: ‘The application for discharge at the close of the State case is granted and the accused is found not guilty and acquitted.

“The respondents to pay cost of suit, jointly and severally, the one paying the other to be absolved,” Justice Takuva ruled.

Masuku had been charged with contravening Section 3 (15) of the Prison (Staff) (Discipline) regulations, having personal relations with persons who have been discharged from prison and with relatives or friends of persons who have been discharged thereof.

It was alleged that she fell in love with the ex-convict Denga, but she vehemently denied the charge arguing that she only offered him a lift as part of a group of people who were travelling to Khami Prison Complex.