The lawyers for imprisoned opposition politicians Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole have written to Prisons authorities saying their clients were being denied food, shackled around in tighteg irons and exposed to dangerous criminals at Chikurubi.
The two CCC members are among the total of 16 activists who have spent more than 60 days in remand at the maximum security facility for alleged violence in Nyatsime in June.
In a letter by their lawyers, which we republish below, the two lawmakers complain about the inhuman conditions they are being subjected to. HourlyHits publishes the letter below:
RE: DETENTION CONDITIONS OF OUR CLIENTS JOB SIKHALA & GODFREY SITHOLE
We write this letter on behalf of Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole, our clients, currently detained at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison that is under your command. It is at their instance that we address you.
Kindly note our interest.
Following consultations with the above mentioned Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole by our Ms Roselyn Hanzi, who is part of their legal team (with a specific interest on the protection of their human rights as provided in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the international human rights instruments that Zimbabwe has voluntary accepted) we are concerned by the treatment they continue to receive.
To our dismay, we have established that;
- The two, Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole are being subjected to inhuman treatment,
- They are being shackled in leg irons when they have to leave their holding cells to meet with visitors, including when they are meeting with their lawyers.
- These leg irons are as old as can be. Other than them being too tight, since they appear to be one size fit all (despite that some inmates may have bigger legs) with a possibility of disrupting the smooth circulation of blood, they are also bruising the legs at point of contact, for our clients.
- The act of putting leg irons on our clients is tantamount to inhumane and degrading punishment or treatment that is proscribed in the Constitution, that is very clear – section 53 thereof states that no one must be subjected to inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment.
- Job Sikhala further advises us that although he as a right to receive certain visitors as specified in section 50 of the Constitution which articulates the ‘Rights of arrested and detained person’.
- Regrettably, Job Sikhala’s rights are not being respected, more particularly in that, some of his visitors are being turned away when they bring him food as they are advised that he has too much food. It is baffling that the prison officers under your command are now multi-tasking as dieticians and/or nutritionists who can determine the dietary requirements, more particularly the calorie intake that one is required to observe.
We seek clarity on whether the officers under your command, particularly those manning the visitors’ gate have relevant scientific training to determine when one has too much food.
We are also advised that the duo-Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole are being detained in the ‘D’ class section, which we are reliably informed, is the detention section for dangerous and convicted criminals. For all intents and purposes, the two have not been convicted of any crime and they have the presumption of innocence in their favour which is a cardinal principle in our criminal justice system.
Be that as it may, we now hereby demand that you detain our clients in conditions that do not amount to inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. We also do not want our clients to be detained in overcrowded conditions.
Further, this letter serves to remind you as we hereby do, that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land (section 2) and that any practice, law or policy inconsistent
with it is null and void.
We now therefore write to demand that you accord our clients all their constitutional rights and freedoms as envisaged in the 2013 Constitution.
ZIMBABWE LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Cc: The Commissioner General Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services