HIGH Court Judge Justice Emilia Muchawa has reaffirmed that consultations between detained prisoners and their lawyers should remain confidential in a momentous development which should put a stop to the pervasive and intrusive practice by Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS).
ZPCS through Superintendent Moses Gukurume, the Officer-In-Charge of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, had on 4 July 2022 denied human rights lawyer Roselyn Hanzi, who is the Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), access to her two clients namely Zengeza West constituency legislator Hon. Job Sikhala and Chitungwiza North constituency legislator Hon. Godfrey Sithole.
Irked by this, Hanzi engaged her lawyers Obey Shava and Paidamoyo Saurombe of ZLHR, who on 5 July 2022, filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court arguing that prisoners have a right to consult in private with their lawyers as provided in Section 50(5)(b) of the Constitution and asked the High Court to declare the refusal by ZPCS to allow her access to her clients as unlawful.
The human rights lawyer asked the High Court to order ZPCS to allow her to consult in private with her clients and to compel authorities at the correctional facility to act in line with provisions of the Constitution which provides that detained persons have a right to consult in the sight but not the hearing of a prison officer as provided in the Constitution and in prison regulations.
Hanzi cited ZPCS Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu, Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi and Gukurume, the Officer in Charge of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison as respondents in the application.
On Friday 12 August 2022, Justice Muchawa ordered Chihobvu, Ziyambi and Gukurume to allow Hanzi “to consult in private” with Hon. Sikhala and Hon. Sithole, who have been incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for more than two months.
The two legislators were arrested on 14 June 2022 by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, who charged them with incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1)(a) as read with section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors argued that Hon. Sikhala recorded and circulated a video urging people to commit acts of public violence in seeking revenge for the death of Moreblessing Ali, who was murdered in Nyatsime area in Beatrice.
Prosecutors alleged that Hon. Sithole and Hon. Sikhala supplied some vehicles which allegedly ferried some opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party supporters from Chitungwiza and Epworth to Nyatsime, where they attacked some ruling ZANU PF party supporters and also destroyed property at shops and beerhalls and looted groceries and electrical gadgets including burning a one-roomed house belonging to George Murambatsvina, the ZANU PF party Councillor for Nyatsime.
On 12 July 2022, Hon. Sikhala was also charged with obstructing or defeating the course of justice as defined in Section 184(1)(e) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Prosecutors allege that at an unknown date but during the period extending from 25 May 2022 and 16 June 2022 in Chitungwiza and Nyatsime, the Zengeza West legislator recorded and circulated a video clip wherein he intended to mislead police officers probing the murder of Moreblessing Ali. The law enforcement agents claimed that Hon. Sikhala blamed some ruling ZANU PF party supporters for kidnapping and murdering Ali.
In this matter, Hon. Sikhala, is represented by Jeremiah Bamu of ZLHR and Beatrice Mtetwa of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.