Q&A – 8 July 2013

Fake police in office

My secretary informed me that two police officers had come to see me to question me over an alleged offence. Believing them to be real officers, I allowed them in and they started threatening me about something I had no idea about. They had even come in a car that had police Tanzania number plates. Little did I know that the individuals were former police officers who have now been fired and are going around trying to extort money from people pretending to be still in duty. Is there no law that they can be punished under?
RE, Dar

Under the National Security Act this is a serious offence. Section 6 of this Act states that any person who, for the purpose of gaining or assisting any other person to gain admission to a protected place or for any other purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Republic–
(a) without lawful authority uses or wears any uniform of the Defence Forces or of the Police Force or any other official uniform of the United Republic or any uniform so closely resembling the same as to be likely to deceive, or falsely represents himself to be a person who is or has been entitled to wear or use any such uniform;
(b) without lawful authority uses any vehicle belonging to the Government or any branch thereof, or any vehicle which because of false number-plates or other reason so closely resembles such a vehicle as to be likely to deceive, or falsely represents himself to be a person who is entitled to use such a vehicle commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years.

If you have not already done so, you should report this to the police.

Leakage of information from company

I own a company and have senior officials in the company for contract negotiations. Over the last two years we have been making losses for reasons which weren’t clear.
Recently I found out that two of my senior employees have been leaking information to our competitors for a financial gain. I want to fire them, will it be legal? What is the procedure to fire such an employee?
EJ, Dar

Our labour laws provide that termination can arise only if there is a valid and fair reason which calls for termination but fair procedures before termination have to be observed. As per the information you have provided to us, the senior employee is in breach of his employment contract hence he is guilty of misconduct which is a valid reason for disciplinary action.

The fair procedure before termination calls for the employer to conduct thorough investigation on the allegations and give a report to the employee in question. A disciplinary hearing must be conducted and upon hearing the parties, you can decide to terminate him. It is important that you have enough evidence on the allegations you have stated otherwise if you are sued by the employee for unfair termination, you may have to pay twelve months of salary as compensation.

It is not unwise to get a labour consultant to assist you through the process.

Termination of a contract

I want to get out of a contract that I executed. What are the legal grounds that I can use to get out of it?
SD, Kilimanjaro

Contracts are meant to be honored and the law intends to ensure that parties who execute contracts honor the word of the contract to ensure that businesses do not collapse.

The Law of Contract Act however gives the parties several grounds to terminate the contract provided that such grounds exist. You can terminate the contract if there was duress, misrepresentation i.e. the other party misrepresented the core facts of the contract, illegality of the contract or subject of the contract, mistake of fact i.e. the minds of the parties to the contract did not meet, you are a minor i.e. below 18 years old, breach of the terms and/or conditions of the contract, the condition precedent have not been fulfilled to mention a few. We recommend that your Attorney takes a look at your contract before you make any moves.

Arrest by traffic police

Few days ago, I was driving home very late at night and was stopped by a traffic police who just showed up from a nearby bush. It seemed weird that a traffic police would appear from such a place in the middle of the night. Due to my fear of being robbed by persons who pretend to be police, I did not stop but went and reported to the nearest police station. To my surprise the said police station seemed closed. However after waiting a while, a junior officer took my statement. I was also asked to wait until a police car arrived. To my surprise I was put under arrest and they drove me to a larger police station where I spent the weekend. Can I be arrested just like that by the police? Please guide.
CC, Dar

It is a rule of thumb that all road users must comply with traffic rules including stopping when required to do so by a traffic police. However, considering the circumstances of the incident that you have narrated above, we believe you acted how a reasonable person would by not stopping and reporting to the nearest police station.

We are unsure what led the police to remand you for two when you voluntarily did report to the police station. We find it was improper for them to remand you unless there were other lawful reasons you have not disclosed to us. We think both commonsense and logic was to be used in dealing with your case during that night. Should you have committed a traffic offence then the law was to be used appropriately, but we have not heard of any traffic law allowing the police officer to punish a person committing a traffic offence by remanding him/her in the manner you have described. You perhaps need to disclose everything to your Attorneys who can guide you further.