Harare- Lawyers representing incarcerated journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, senior MDC Alliance officials, Fadzayi Mahere and Job Sikhala, were over the weekend denied access to their clients detained by prison officials, at the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
The trio is facing charges of publishing falsehoods after tweeting that an infant died on the spot after a Harare police officer had struck it with a baton two weeks ago.
However, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) raised alarm at the weekend after blocking access to the three in prison for lawyer-client confidential briefings and also to bring them food, including water, which is scarce at the high security facility.
Last week, prison officials had committed the lawyers would have access to their clients as long as they produced Covid-19 negative certificates.
“We are concerned that today (Saturday) lawyers representing Chin’ono, Mahere and Hon. Sikhala were denied access to their clients at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison even though they presented Covid-19 test results showing they are negative as demanded by ZPCS on Friday,” ZLHR said.
“Surprisingly, other people visiting other prisoners could be seen being allowed access to inmates.”
ZLHR director Roselyn Hanzi said prison officials at Chikurubi Prison were applying the law selectively to punish the trio for political reasons.
“Very, very selective application of the so-called “Directives”, lawyers for Mahere, Chin’ono and Sikhala asked to provide Covid19 certificates. Once produced, ZPCS changes goal posts. A gross violation of section 50 of the Constitution,” she said Sunday.
Zimbabwe Prison Correctional Services spokesperson Peter Chaparanganda could neither deny nor confirm the nightmare the trio is going through in prison at the hands of prison officials.
“Can you email your questions to us? I will need to find out first. I cannot discuss this issue without facts on the ground. May you put your questions down and send to us via our email and will respond to you?” Chaparanganda said.
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