Tuesday, 19 January 2021

THREE MAFUME PRISON INMATES DIE OF COVID-19

THREE inmates, who were sharing the same cell with suspended Harare mayor Jacob Mafume at Harare Remand Prison succumbed to COVID-19, a court heard yesterday.

This was revealed by Mafume’s lawyer Tendai Biti while applying for the postponement of hearing for bail revocation bid by the State which was set for yesterday.

Biti told the court that Mafume was supposed to be quarantined on a medical doctor’s recommendation after three of his cellmates succumbed to COVID-19. Following the doctor’s recommendations, Mafume did not attend court yesterday.

Prosecutor Charles Muchemwa consented to Biti’s request.

State prosecutors submitted an application for the court to revoke bail granted to Mafume on the matter in which the mayor is accused of illegally parcelling out land, on the basis that he wilfully violated his bail conditions by interfering with Edgar Dzehonye, whom he knew was a key witness in his matter.

Mafume was granted $40 000 bail at the High Court last Friday on a charge of attempting to bribe a key witness.

He had been released on $30 000 bail at the High Court a few days before he was arrested for obstructing or defeating the course of justice.

Biti’s application came at a time human rights defenders have expressed concern over issues of the congestion of detainees in Zimbabwean prisons, as well as lack of adequate medical care facilities to protect them from COVID-19.

Mafume reportedly fell sick while on remand prison, and had to call a private doctor to assess his condition.

Incarcerated journalist Hopewell Chin’ono also narrated the deplorable sanitary conditions in remand prison when he appeared before magistrate Lazini Ncube recently on charges of communicating falsehoods.

Chin’ono had requested to be isolated from other inmates since he had been in contact with COVID-19 positive people.

He complained in court that the prison officers had failed to comply, putting lives of other inmates at risk.

MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, who is facing similar charges to Chin’ono’s, also told magistrate Trynos Wutawashe that sanitary conditions in cells made it difficult for inmates to comply with hygienic practices recommended to curb the spread of COVID-19. Newsday

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