Human Rights Lawyers Complain Over Ill-Treatment Of Sikhala, Sithole

Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole chained together


Human rights lawyers have lodged a complaint with Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) over the ill-treatment of two opposition legislators Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole, who have spent more than two months in detention.

In a letter written on Tuesday 16 August 2022 and addressed to the Officer in Charge of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) Executive Director Roselyn Hanzi andcZLHR Programmes Lawyer Idirashe Chikomba protested that Hon. Sikhala and Sithole were being treated as hard-core and dangerous criminals by some ZPCS officers while in prison.

Hanzi and Chikomba said Sikhala and Sithole were constantly being shackled in leg irons while detained at the “D” Class section at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, which is supposed to house some Dangerous inmates, who would have been convicted of serious crimes such as murder and yet the two legislators have not been convicted of committing any crime.

The two legislators, Hanzi and Chikomba said, were being shackled in leg irons each time when they have to leave their holding cells to meet with visitors including when they are meeting and consulting with their lawyers and have sustained bruises on their legs owing to the constant shackling.

Hanzi and Chikomba charged that the act of putting leg irons on Sikhala and Sithole is tantamount to inhumane and degrading punishment or treatment that is proscribed in the Constitution, which in Section 53 clearly states that no-one must be subjected to inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment.

In the case of Sikhala, Hanzi and Chikomba said although the parliamentarian has a right to receive certain visitors as specifiedcin Section 50 of the Constitution, which articulates the rights of arrested and detained persons, the Zengeza West constituency legislator’s rights were not being respected as some of his visitors were being turned away when they bring him food.

Hanzi and Chikomba said ZPCS officers were advising visitors that Sikhala has too much food stocks to which the human rights lawyers said it is baffling as the prison officers were now multi-tasking ascdieticians and/or nutritionists who can determine the dietary requirements, more particularly the calorie intake that one is required to observe.

The lawyers sought clarity from ZPCS on whether the prison officers manning the visitors’ gate have relevant scientific training to determine when one has too much food or not.

Hanzi and Chikomba asked ZPCS to take corrective measures by detaining their clients in conditions that do not amount to inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment including not being detained in overcrowded conditions and accord Hon. Sikhala and Hon. Sithole all their constitutional rights and freedoms as guaranteed in the Constitution.

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