By Daniel Nemukuyu
Kevin Pato, the murder suspect who turned deaf in remand prison and has not been tried for four years, is now expected to face trial after a non-governmental organisation offered sign language training for him.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) recently sent 10 of its officers for a sign language course to cater for people in similar circumstances in line with the supreme law of the country.
This followed an investigative report by The Herald which exposed the legal crisis that stalled Pato’s trial for years.
Pato (32) lost his sense of hearing, bringing his trial to a halt.
He cannot hear, but can read notes and respond verbally.
Ear specialists have confirmed the disability, saying the suspect had a profound hearing loss in both ears.
However, legal experts said communication through writing notes was not possible in a court of law, complicating his chances of standing trial.
Pato reportedly committed murder in the course of a robbery.
The offence attracts the death penalty if he is found guilty.
Relatives of the deceased have been pushing for the trial to start, but the State did not know how to proceed.
Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi said his office made every effort to ensure Pato gets justice.
“Finally, we have found a well-wisher who offered to sponsor the suspect’s sign language training to enable him to be tried.”
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) public relations officer Ms Angeline Munyeriwa said initial efforts to buy Pato a hearing aid failed after it was demed “too expensive”.
“Our officers initially wanted to buy cochlear implant to enhance Pato’s sense of hearing, but it proved costly.
“We wrote to a number of NGOs seeking assistance, but there was no positive response. The only option now is to have him taught sign language.
“Fortunately, a donor has offered to sponsor Pato’s training in sign language,” she said. The Herald