By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume lawyers are crying foul over denial of access to their clients and food from their friends at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
The two are reportedly being forced to eat foods not recommended for their medical conditions. In a statement seen by Nehanda Radio, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is worried;
“Another haggling session commenced, and by then the prison kitchen had closed. The two lawyers requested that on humanitarian grounds, they should be allowed to eat as they had
last had food to eat at lunchtime the previous day (on 7 August).
“Gumisiro, the senior prison officer who had overturned the earlier authority then gave them 5 minutes to eat. Although Jacob was able to eat like a soldier at war, Hopewell managed a few spoons and gave up.
“Lawyers sought permission to bring in warm clothes as the prison has no jerseys, this request was denied. Lawyers were told that only the red and white prison jersey is allowed and the lawyers
have to source the jerseys for the clients.
“Both Hopewell and Jacob are on medication. They need to eat before taking their medication. The two Jacob and Hopewell do not eat sadza for medical reasons, but they were advised that prisons only serve sadza, thereby leaving them without access to food.
“It was emphasized that home food was not allowed because of COVID19. When lawyers pointed out that Harare Remand has a far higher turnover rate, and is, therefore, more susceptible to COVID19, yet home food is allowed, this fell on deaf ears.
“Lawyers also pointed out that the World Health Organization recommends hot food, the prison officer said Hopewell and Jacob could eat hot prison food,” read the ZLHR statement.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) spokesperson Meya Khanyezi denied ill-treating Chin’ono and Ngarivhume and admitted that the two are being denied access to their legal counsel, food from their families.
The two were arrested over allegations connected to the July 31 demonstration. As Covid-19 cases rise in Zimbabwe, there are major risks to the country’s prisons and detention centers.
These facilities are often unsanitary, overcrowded, and have no running water in cells for detainees to comply with hygiene practices recommended to stem the spread of the disease.
ZLHR added that all their fundamental rights, including the right to food, the right to give instructions to lawyers in private have been taken away. The presumption of innocence simply does not exist in this case.
“The prison officers further indicated that relatives and other social visits were not allowed. The prison officers further indicated that lawyers would only be allowed to visit and consult with their lawyers between 09:00 hours and 14:00 hours,” read the statement. Nehanda Radio