LAWYERS for incarcerated MDC deputy national chairperson, Job “Wiwa” Sikhala, say his health is continuing to deteriorate after prison authorities allegedly barred him from accessing a private doctor.
This comes as the larger-than-life legislator is fighting to be released from Chikurubi Maximum prison – following his dramatic arrest last month on charges of inciting public violence.
Sikhala’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, told the Daily News yesterday that he had visited the lawyer-cum-politician on Friday, who complained that his health was deteriorating and that he was being denied medical attention.
“I went to see him on Friday and his legs are swollen. We have been trying to get him private medical attention, but there has been no co-operation from the prison,” he said.
But Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) spokesperson Meya Khanyezi said Sikhala had not requested for medical attention.
“Our role as prisons is to ensure that every detained person’s welfare is catered for, and we do not discriminate.
“I have contacted the authorities where Sikhala is housed and they have not received any requests for his private doctor to attend to him.
“We wish to advise his lawyers and relatives that they are free to process the request,” Khanyezi told the Daily News.
“As ZPCS we have thousands of prisoners in our custody and always arrange for our doctors to treat them when they are sick.
“There are many that come with requests for private medical attention and we allow that. I do not see any reason why Sikhala would allege he has been singled out and discriminated,” Khanyezi added.
This comes as Sikhala’s bail appeal at the High Court is expected to be heard today before Justice Erica Ndewere. His lawyers are arguing that the magistrate who denied him pre-trial freedom erred grossly and misdirected himself.
“The finding by the court a quo that appellant went into hiding for some time before he could be arrested is inconsistent with established evidence in that no evidence was adduced by the State of any effort to contact appellant for him to surrender himself to the police at any stage.
“No evidence was adduced by the State that they made it public that they wanted the appellant in connection with any offence,” the lawyers say in court papers.
The prosecution has claimed that Sikhala is a flight risk should his bail appeal at the High Court succeed, as he is facing 10 years behind bars if convicted of inciting public violence.
Sikhala was arrested last month and police claimed he had been found hiding in a ceiling at a house in Tynwald North – a westem suburb of Harare. His arrest sent tongues wagging at the time within opposition ranks, where accusations flew furiously as to how he ended up being nabbed by authorities.
The Daily News had reported before the arrest that some MDC Alliance bigwigs were pushing to have him expelled from the coalition for his radical political activities and dogged opposition to Zanu-PF and its government.
So bad was the situation said to have become for Sikhala, that sources told the newspaper at the time that some of his comrades were even hoping that authorities would flush him out of his hideout.