By COURT REPORTER
HARARE magistrate Ngoni Nduna today barred journalists and members of the public from attending fellow scribe Hopewell Chin’ono’s fresh bail application hearing on the grounds that it may endanger prison security.
Chin’ono was to testify on current prison conditions after his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa had asked the court to allow her to lead his client to testify.
Before he could proceed, prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi immediately requested that the hearing be stopped and only be conducted in private and Nduna upheld the request.
Nduna ordered that the hearing will proceed to tomorrow and will be held on camera.
This is the second time the journalist, who is languishing in remand prison, is applying for bail before the same magistrate although this time under different circumstances.
Chin’ono is facing charges of inciting public violence by encouraging the public to overthrow the ruling government through the 31 July protests which, however, did not take place.
Mtetwa revealed to journalists after the court session that his client was surviving on biscuits and water in prison and his relatives were not allowed to bring him food.
Chin’ono’s lawyers were not satisfied about his sudden transfer to Chikurubi Maximum Prison together with Jacob Ngarivhume and fear food poisoning and instead want his client to be given food brought by his relatives.
However, in a recent interview, ZPCS spokesperson Supt Meya Khanyezi said the Commissioner General of Prisons, is allowed under the country’s laws, to transfer or make standing orders without consulting the legal representatives of inmates.
“The Commissioner-General is empowered to make standing orders and it is in terms of these standing orders that certain categories of prisoners can only have visitors within sight and hearing of prison officers. Transfer of inmates from one prison to another is entirely an administrative issue. ZPCS is not obligated to inform an inmate’s lawyers,” he said.
ZPCS said it treated inmates equally and does not discriminate, adding that it has not been spared by the Covid-19 scourge and as such it will take appropriate measures that include cutting visits to prisons of families and transfer of prisoners when it is necessary.