Three diamond sorters who allegedly swallowed pieces of diamonds while on duty at the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) in Chiadzwa last week, have been granted $200 bail each by a Mutare magistrate.
Pfungwai Sithole (31), Talent Madeure(27) and Tendai Masango (32) have since appeared before Mutare magistrate, Mr Innocent Bepura facing allegations of theft and an alternative charge of unlawfully dealing in or being found in possession of precious stones.
Mutare lawyer, Mr Chris Ndlovu of Gonese and Ndlovu Legal Practitioners represented the trio.
Public prosecutor, Mr Fletcher Karombe told the court that on March 5, 2017 around 3am at ZCDC, the three diamond sorters who were unblocking a blockage on a diamond convey belt, were seen by a security guard swallowing diamonds.
The accused were subsequently arrested.
The matter took a twisted turn as the defence counsel applied for a dismissal of the matter before prosecution accusing the police of ill-treating, degrading and letting the trio go through inhuman treatment in their hands.
“They went through inhuman treatment in the hands of the police, they were ill-treated and forced to eat groundnuts and fresh milk only for days, something that made them suffer from running stomach.
“The police would also force them to excrete in buckets while they watched them thereby denying them their right to privacy. They went ahead and ordered them to go through their own stool in search of the said diamonds. How worse could ill-treatment go?,” argued Mr Ndlovu.
He further argued that the trio had been illegally taken to the hospital and a private surgery for X-rays without their consent and that the doctor had breached the doctor to patient privacy by telling the police information concerning the trio’s health without their consent.
The investigations officer, Detective Elliot Mucharuona however, denied the allegations. But he admitted to having taken the accused persons to the hospital and conducting x-rays.
“Your Worship, they were never fed groundnuts and milk, those are lies. And when they were taken to hospital, they had consented. The matter of monitoring their stool however, was a different story as those were investigative measures of gathering evidence against the suspects otherwise the police’s efforts would be fruitless,” said the detective.
He further pointed that all evidence they had collected so far pointed out that the three suspects were at fault and all they needed were further investigations to produce the foreign bodies that were detected by the X- rays.
The application was however dismissed by Mr Bepura who said that there was not enough evidence that the trio had been ill-treated. He also concluded that they had not been over-detained since he was the one who had dealt with the matter when the police had made an application for further detention.
The State went ahead and opposed bail stating that since the foreign bodies were still in the accused persons’ bodies then they needed to be remanded in custody so that their stool be monitored.
However, the defence stood its ground and stated that the monitoring of the trio’s stool was inhuman and illegal. The trio was not asked to plead to the charges and was remanded out of custody to March 27, 2017. Bail was set at $200. – State Media