CFI HOLDINGS PRIVATE LIMITED
SUPREME COURT OF ZIMBABWE
ZIYAMBI JA, GWAUNZA JA & PATEL JA
HARARE, JANUARY 28, & OCTOBER 23, 2014
C Venturas, for the appellant
Advocate L Uriri, for the respondent
ZIYAMBI JA: This appeal deals with the oft recurring question whether an employee whose contract of employment has been terminated, and who has appealed to the Labour Court against that termination, is entitled, pending resolution of the appeal, to retain a motor vehicle allocated to him for the performance of his duties during the course of his employment. It also addresses the question of the jurisdiction of the High Court in these circumstances to grant relief to the employer under the rei vindicatio.
The appellant, who was employed by the respondent as the Chief Executive officer of its subsidiary Victoria Foods (Pvt) Ltd, was, on 3 August 2012, suspended without pay and benefits pending disciplinary proceedings to be brought against him. He was ordered to return to the respondent a certain motor vehicle a BMW X5 allocated to him for use in the performance of his duties as respondent’s employee. He refused to do so and an additional charge of wilful disobedience to a lawful order was preferred against him.
On 3 October 2012, the determination of the disciplinary authority finding him guilty of misconduct and dismissing him from employment with the respondent was communicated to the appellant by a letter to his legal practitioners. In the same letter, the appellant was directed to surrender the vehicle to the respondent by 5 October 2012, failing which it was intended to hand the matter over to legal practitioners to obtain recovery thereof. When no positive response to the letter was received, the respondent successfully filed an urgent application in the High Court for a provisional Order.