OPPOSITION Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has accused government of gross human rights violations after he was yesterday barred from visiting incarcerated party legislators Job Sikhala (Zengeza West), Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North) and 13 others who were arrested in Nyatsime in June over allegations of inciting violence.
Speaking to reporters soon after being denied entry to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where the politicians are being held, Chamisa said: “When a government is at the core and at the forefront of abusing citizens, it’s a difficult thing. In other countries, terrorism is done by sections of society. In our country, terrorism is actually instigated by government. We have issues in the country, and human rights abuses are rampant. Our colleagues have spent over 120 days in prison with no trial. Pre-trial incarceration; detention without trial is a serious international human rights violation. Sikhala, Sithole and all the Nyatsime heroes are not criminals. They have not committed any offence. They are political prisoners and it’s on account of the toxic politics in this country.”
Chamisa claimed that Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi had ordered prison officers to deny him access to his imprisoned colleagues.
Chamisa was made to wait for more than three hours outside the gates. He later met the prison officer-in-charge who turned him away.
This is despite Chamisa having written to prison authorities demanding that he be allowed to visit the incarcerated CCC members. He was granted permission after threatening legal action against prison authorities.
After he was denied entry yesterday, Chamisa told journalists: “We had been made to wait for three hours and after being cleared to enter the prison, we only went to the officer-in-charge’s office who told us the Minister of Justice had banned us from visiting our colleagues.”
“I have listened to people who say, no, you are being soft, but we know what we are dealing with — and these guys are determined to go full length to be very oppressive. We are equally determined, and I can tell you that the citizens are totally determined. We are very clear about the change we want.”
Last week, MDC-Alliance leader Douglas Mwonzora was cleared to visit Sikhala.
Chamisa said he would challenge the restriction.
“It is an embarrassment, a harassment and unacceptable that we have this kind of abuse of the law. Apart from just being an ordinary citizen, I am also a practising lawyer and I have every right to see any client if need be. It is very unfortunate and we will fight this.”
Efforts to get a comment from Ziyambi were fruitless.
Sikhala, Sithole and the other party members were arrested on charges of inciting public violence following violent clashes that erupted between CCC and Zanu PF supporters during the funeral of murdered opposition member Moreblessing Ali in Nyatsime in June this year. Newsday