Ailing MDC Alliance legislator hauled from hospital back to prison

23 April 2021 - 18:05 By Lenin Ndebele
MDC Alliance legislator Joana Mamombe has so far spent 47 days in remand prison facing charges of violating Covid-19 regulations. Stock photo.
MDC Alliance legislator Joana Mamombe has so far spent 47 days in remand prison facing charges of violating Covid-19 regulations. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Ahmed Zaggoudi

It isn't getting any better for MDC Alliance legislator Joana Mamombe who has spent 47 days in remand prison facing charges of violating Covid-19 regulations in Zimbabwe.

Mamombe and fellow activist Cecilia Chimbiri were charged with violating Covid-19 regulations after addressing a news conference in March, calling for the release of activist Makomborero Haruzivishe who is serving a 14-month jail sentence for “resisting arrest and inciting public violence”.

Their bid for freedom has been futile. They were denied bail several times by the magistrate's and high courts and life in remand prison has been traumatic.

During their first week behind bars a snake was spotted dangling from the roof of their cell. After screaming, two hours later, they and another inmate were evacuated from the cell.

Mamombe was on Thursday night forcibly removed from Parkton Hospital, a private facility, and taken back to Chikurubi Prison.

Mamombe was admitted for acute stomach pain but “taking instructions from above”, prison wardens took her back to prison without clearing this with her doctor.

The incident was filmed. Mamombe protested about being taken back to prison. “I never said anything bad about prison ... I’m a prisoner but I still have rights, I’m not going anywhere. I’m in pain,” she said.

The MDC Alliance’s David Coltart described Mamombe's treatment by the state as “new depths of tyranny and cruelty”.

The British embassy in Zimbabwe said it was “closely” following developments on the treatment of Mamombe as all prisoners had the right to “equal and fair treatment under the law”.

Meanwhile, activists Terrence Manjengwa and Tanyaradzwa Zawaira, arrested on August 20 last year and charged with disorderly conduct after attending the trial of MDC Alliance deputy chair Job Sikhala, have been removed from further remand.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said their lawyers applied for this because the state took a long time to put them on trial and failed to make witnesses available when they appeared in court.

The latest human rights report on Zimbabwe paints a grim picture on prisons. It said they were overcrowded and Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) held pretrial detainees with convicted prisoners until their bail hearings. Due to fuel shortages, the prison service was at times unable to transport pretrial detainees to court hearings, resulting in delayed trials and longer detention.

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