HPTO-NMB-080321

Jacob Mafume seriously ill, says lawyer

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SUSPENDED Harare mayor Jacob Mafume says he suspects he has contracted the deadly coronavirus due to poor health conditions at Harare Remand Prison.
Mafume, who is in custody after allegedly violating his bail conditions in a matter he is accused of abusing his office to award residential stands to his sister and a colleague, now wants a magistrate’s court to inspect the cells and intervene to save inmates.

In an application placed before magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guuriro, Mafume’s lawyer, Tendai Biti, said the holding cells at the remand prison are congested and wants an urgent Covid-19 test for his client.

“Accused is not well, he is displaying symptoms of coronavirus. “He has been attended to at the clinic at Remand Prison, but there is no decent health facility. They just prescribed a painkiller and a one-size-fit-all antibiotic, amoxicillin. We make an application that he be subjected to urgent Covid-19 test and general health check,” Biti told the magistrate.

Biti said police officers are now operating in fear of being charged with abuse of office, hence instead of using their discretion, they end up charging accused persons in petty cases which would normally attract admission of guilt fines.

“The conditions at Harare Remand Prison, in the wake of Covid-19, breaches his right to life, dignity, health and a clean environment.

“He (Mafume) is in Class 3 prison which is designed for not more than 30 people, but there are 64 inmates. There is no social distance, no masks, no gloves and sanitisers. They are sleeping on the floor. “Remand is flooded with prisoners, as during the festive season there was a lot of petty crime and now the system is overloaded.

“There are so many people who are facing rape charges and waiting for their bail applications, people arrested for dealing in foreign currency and others arrested for breaches of Covid-19 regulations which normally require fines at the police station.”

Muchuchuti-Guuriro is expected to make a ruling on the application today.

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