By Mary Taruvinga, Senior Reporter
“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.” lawyers representing jailed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmakers, Job Sikhala and Godfrey Karakadzai have complained to prison authorities.
The lawmakers are enduring difficult times at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, where they are detained on allegations of inciting public violence.
So inhumane is the treatment, to the extent that they are always in leg irons and handcuffed while holed up in D class prison section, which is reserved for the most dangerous criminals including killers, armed robbers and rapists.
Prison wardens, according to the duo’s lawyers, have become self-appointed dieticians, who dictate the amount, quality and type of food the two should consume.
Roselyn Hanzi and Idirashe Chikomba, human rights lawyers representing the politicians, have written a letter to officer-in-charge Chikurubi Maximum Prison, demanding fair treatment of their clients.
They said the two law makers have privilege to provisions to Constitutional rights and should be accorded the same with no reservations.
Reads the letter, “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, more specifically in that 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.
The lawyers said the act of clutching leg irons on the legislators was tantamount to inhumane and degrading punishment or treatment that noone must be subjected to.
“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,” further wrote the lawyers.
They complained over the detention of the two in D Class, stating that “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.
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.”