BY BRIDGET MANANAVIRE
A COURT application by an aggrieved prisoner’s family has exposed some of the brutality and ill-treatment being endured by inmates at some of the country’s correctional facilities.
Charles Meda said his brother Nyasha Ndangarazi was brutally assaulted by about 10 prison officers using fists, kicks and baton sticks, on allegations of smuggling an MP3 player into his cell at Harare Central Remand Prison. It later turned out that the allegation was false.
As a result of the assault, Ndangarazi is now having trouble breathing, one of his feet is swollen and he has also developed back pain.
In an urgent chamber application filed at the Harare High Court by his lawyers, Denford Halimani and Idirashe Chikomba of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Meda is seeking an order to compel the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) to allow his brother to get private medical attention and to declare the assault unlawful.
ZPCS Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi were cited as first and second respondents, respectively, in the matter.
The case has also exposed the poor state of medical facilities in the country’s prisons.
“This matter is extremely urgent. My brother’s life is at stake because of the fast rate that his health is fading away,” Meda said in his affidavit.
“I visited him yesterday (Thursday October 10 2019) and my heart sank.
“His leg continues to swell to the extent that he no longer feels anything when you press it because the nerves and veins were affected by the assault.
“The prison doctor and State doctor have both recommended that he be urgently attended to at a private hospital facility.
“He is also having trouble in breathing as well. He was complaining that whenever he inhales deeply he feels a sharp pain which pierces through his chest.
“This is a problem that he started experiencing recently. This problem needs expert examination and proper treatment and cannot be solved by painkillers.”
“Furthermore, what alarmed me the most about Nyasha’s condition is that he also divulged to me that he was now urinating blood.
“This is an indicator of a kidney problem that a doctor at Harare Hospital detected.
“It seems they want to drag their feet as long as they can, hoping that my brother will heal naturally. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The opposite is happening.”
Meda added: “Nyasha is in so much pain that he is now in despair and has been saying lately that it is better for him to die than to live everyday, while the system watches his foot rot from an act of their own doing.
“My greatest fear is that this inhumane treatment, if unrectified might result in the eventual death of my brother, or if he is fortunate enough to survive, he will be paralysed and a terminal patient on dialysis.”
In an August 30 letter to ZPCS, ZLHR accused 10 prison guards identified as Mhene, Nyambuya, Jakara, Mupambi and the Member-in-Charge of committing the brutal assault.
“He was assaulted on August 13, 2019 for allegedly being in possession of an MP3 player. It was later discovered that this was a wrong assumption and that the assault was unwarranted,” the lawyers said.
In response, ZPCS said it would investigate the matter and denied they had barred Ndangarazi’s visitors from seeing him.
According to a certificate of urgency by the lawyers, Ndangarazi now has to be carried around by fellow inmates to the toilet, bathroom or attend to his visitors because he can no longer walk on his own.
“The injuries sustained were and are grave that the said inmate cannot walk. In fact, two months after assault the inmate has to be carried around by fellow inmates in order for him to visit the ablution facilities. The ZPCS does not appear bothered at all,” the lawyers wrote.
“Following the beating, the inmate sought medical assistance within the prisons medical facilities, but this was systematically denied or delayed presumably in a futile attempt to cover up the savage assault.
“When the prison doctor eventually attended to him, he referred the inmate to Harare Hospital where another State doctor recommended him to visit a private medical facility for urgent medical treatment.”
The lawyers said an X-ray scan showed that Ndangarazi’s veins were damaged during the assault, but he was only being given painkillers.