Jailbirds grill prison doctor

Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
A medical doctor with the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services, Dr Tendai Dhobhi, was yesterday called to explain why inmates were being served vegetables cooked with beef dripping during the ongoing trial of prisoners linked to an foiled jailbreak at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. This came after Blessing Chauke (25) and Lucky Mhungu (38) complained of poor diet, death threats and lack of access to medical attention.

Chauke and Mhungu are jointly charged with Robert Martin Gumbura, Lucky Matambanadzo (39), Taurai Dodzo (47), Thomas Chacha (37), Thulani Chizema (32), Jacob Sibanda (28) and Elijah Vhumbunu (38).

They are accused of masterminding a foiled jailbreak at Chikurubi Maximum Prison last year. Dr Dhobhi told the court that according to Statutory Instrument 96/2012, the prisons could use either cooking oil or beef dripping.

“The issue of food is an administrative matter,” said Dr Dhobhi.

There was drama in court when Mhungu demanded that the doctor do a physical check on him.

He then asked Dr Dhobhi if he had noticed his dental filling.

“I thought you wanted me to look at your general condition. Dentists use microscopic glasses to examine teeth. How did you expect me to see the filing with my naked eyes?” asked the doctor.

In response, Mhungu said losing four teeth in a month was urgent and only a dentist could comment on his teeth.

“The training I went through did not exclude certain parts of the human body so I am qualified to comment on your teeth,” said Dr Dhobhi.

Mhungu told the court that in prison a diagnosis is given but no follow-up on cure is done.

“You are wrong on the follow-up on cure,” replied Dr Dhobhi.

Mhungu insisted thatno follow -up on treatment was done and again Dr Dhobhi told him that he was wrong.

“Why? Because not all diseases can be treated?” asked Mhungu.

“No, because not all diseases are treatable,” said Dr Dhobhi.

The case was adjourned to today.

The nine are being charged with attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances or alternatively conspiracy in aggravating circumstances for allegedly maliciously damaging property.

They are facing an additional charge of incitement to assault or alternatively conspiracy to assault.

It is alleged that Gumbura, with the help of his eight accomplices orchestrated the riotous environment at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison during which they attempted to escape from prison.

The court heard that property with an estimated $450 000 was vandalised.

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