Court held that the actions of the defendant required it to have made sufficient investigation into the matter before dismissing the employee. Court was of the view that the employer’s obligation in such a situation was to ensure that the employee has had an opportunity to learn what allegations have been leveled against him and should allow him to put his own side of the story to the employer before any decision is taken. Under the Manual, they were entitled to be informed verbally, if possible, or else in writing. This was not done. None of them were allowed or availed opportunity to put down his own side of the story to the defendant before the decision to hand them over to police for prosecution and later to interdict them was taken. It cannot be argued with all seriousness that the investigation carried out constituted any such investigation envisioned in the Manual.
Court agreed with the submission of learned counsel for the plaintiffs that failure to adhere to the procedure laid down in the Manual amounted to failure to observe the principle of natural justice, alterem partem, and it rendered the interdiction and the resultant termination wrongful.
Suffice it to add that the right of the employer to terminate the contract of service, whether by giving notice or incurring a penalty of paying compensation in lieu of notice cannot be fettered by the courts. Given that compensation for the unlawful termination of an employee is confined to the monetary value of the period that was necessary to give proper notice of termination, which was done in the instant case, the plaintiffs had not proved any entitlement for award of special damages beyond what the defendant paid them.
In view of the defendant’s substantial success on the major claim, the plaintiffs shall have half the taxed costs of the suit. In the result, judgment was entered for the plaintiffs in the above terms against the defendant as follows:
i). A declaration that the two plaintiffs were wrongly interdicted and subsequently terminated.
ii). Shs.10,000,000/= (Ten million only) as general damages for each of the two plaintiffs.
iii). Interest on (ii) above for each plaintiff at the commercial rate of 25% per annum from the date of judgment till payment in full.
iv). Half the taxed costs of the suit (in respect of each plaintiff).