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Mafume’s cellmates succumb to Covid-19

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Blessing Masakadza 

Senior Staff Writer

masakadzab@dailynews.co.zw

 

THREE inmates who shared a cell with suspended Harare mayor Jacob Mafume, pictured, at Harare Remand Prison, have allegedly passed away due to Covid-19 and his doctor has recommended that he be isolated.

This was revealed in court yesterday where Mafume’s lawyer, Tendai Biti, produced a medical report recommending that his client needs to be isolated after being exposed to the deadly virus.

Mafume is expected to appear for a hearing where the State is applying to revoke his bail on allegations of interfering with a witness in a matter he is accused of corruptly facilitating residential stands for his sister and workmate.

He was freed on Friday after he was granted bail by the High Court in the alleged witness interference case.

“From previous hearings, we requested that he be examined by medical doctors.

“The doctor has ordered that the accused be placed in quarantine consistent with Covid-19 regulations.

“The accused was exposed to persons with Covid-19 in remand prison.

“Three inmates he was sharing a cell with succumbed to Covid-19,” Biti told the court.

The hearing was adjourned last week after Mafume’s lawyer indicated that his condition had deteriorated and he was exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.

Biti gave an overview of the situation at the holding cells, which he said exposed inmates to the virus as it is overcrowded.

As a result of the congestion, a cell designed to hold 30 inmates is currently occupied by 64 people.

Biti said police officers are no longer using their own discretion to vet crimes at the station, resulting in even those accused of petty crimes being taken to court instead of paying a fine.

He said the officers now fear being charged with abuse of office if they use their discretion and are passing the buck to the courts to deal with the matters.

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

“He is in Class 3 prison which is designed for not more than 30 people, but there are 64 inmates.

“There is no physical distancing, no masks, no gloves and sanitisers. They are sleeping on the floor,” Biti submitted.

 

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