By Mary Taruvinga
INCARCERATED MDC Alliance vice chair, Job Sikhala claims to have been threatened with death by a senior prison officer as he also spent the whole of Sunday in leg irons within Chikurubi Maximum Security prison walls.
The lawmaker was also said to have been detained in a cell in which 11 inmates reportedly tested positive for Covid-19.
He was arrested last Friday and was back at the Harare Magistrates’ Court Monday where he was applying for bail.
The politician is facing charges of inciting public violence.
His lawyer, Harrison Nkomo told Magistrate Lazini Ncube that on his detention Sunday at Chikurubi prison, the officer in charge of the facility, identified as George Mutimbanyoka threatened Sikhala with death.
“He was advised that he wanted to be the president of this country, which is undesirable. He was told that he shall die in this prison and was asked to provide the mobile number for his next of kin to be advised when he dies,” said Nkomo.
Mutimbanyoka went on to instruct a junior officer, only identified as Murima to handcuff Sikhala the entire day.
The Zengeza legislator also spent the whole of Sunday in leg irons.
“This is despite that he is not a D Class inmate but OI (officer in charge) condemned him and instructed his juniors to detain him in D Class which is for condemned prisoners,” Nkomo told court.
“He was told by fellow inmates in D Class that seven of them had tested positive for Covid-19 the previous day. On the same day, four had tested positive to the deadly virus.”
In prison, Sikhala said he had no sanitiser or personal protective clothing against Covid-19.
“Our client no longer feels safe to be detained at Chikurubi Maximum Prison and is willing to stay at any other prison, and also we apply that the allegations be investigated,” said Nkomo.
The lawyer also asked for the prison cells to be fumigated and that personal protective clothing be availed to the lawmaker and other inmates in the cell.
In response, prosecutor Garudzo Ziyadhuma said the state was hearing the concerns for the first time and would only bring their report after investigations.
However, the magistrate said investigations “must be done as soon as possible”.
Challenging the placement of Sikhala on remand, another lawyer, Jeremiah Bamu said Sikhala did not say any statement with the potential of inciting public violence.
“Allegations were cherry-picked from the warned and cautioned statement,” he said, adding that the charges which Sikhala faced could be based on speculation as his client was not shown any videos.
Neither was he given the chance to listen to audios where the charges were derived from.
Ziyadhuma said the police officers who arrested Sikhala must testify in court to prove Sikhala committed the offence.
The bail application was postponed to this Tuesday.