By Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Service has denied claims incarcerated journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume faced discrimination within prison walls, arguing all inmates were treated equally.
This comes after the two were transferred from the Harare Remand Prison this past week to Chikurubi Maximum Prison under mysterious circumstances.
The two were arrested on the same day but on separate occasions three weeks ago charged with inciting violence against government ahead of the July 31 national protests.
Ngarivhume planned the foiled national protests against high level corruption in government corridors while Chin’ono used his social media handles to spotlight on rampant acts of grant by authorities.
The two’s arrests have ignited global condemnation amid demands for their unconditional release.
However, the tough hand with which the state has held the two has brought fears around their safety with lawyers saying they feared they could be poisoned while in prison.
Responding to the comments, ZPCS spokesperson Supt Meya Khanyezi said the Commissioner General of Prisons, was allowed under the country’s laws to transfer or make standing orders without consulting legal representatives of inmates.
“The Commissioner General is empowered to make standing orders and it is in terms of these standing orders that certain categories of prisoners can only have visitors within sight and hearing of prison officers.
“Transfer of inmates from one prison to another is entirely an administrative issue. ZPCS is not obligated to inform an inmate’s lawyers,” he said.
In a statement Sunday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights also reported the two were being denied food and some warm clothing.
The lawyers group further said the two were not been allowed to hold private discussions with their legal representatives.
But prison authorities have insisted on upholding the Commissioner General Standing Order, Part VII Visits and Communication Section 140 (6) which says, “Unless specifically authorised by the Commissioner General, all visits by a legal practitioner shall be in the presence and hearing of an officer who understands the language used and it shall be a condition of the visit that the legal practitioner may only discuss matters arising from his employment as legal representative of the detainee.”