Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) president Nelson Chamisa has written to the Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) seeking clearance to visit incarcerated legislators Job Sikhala, Godfrey Sithole and fourteen other Nyatsime residents.
Chamisa’s previous attempt to visit Sikhala and other incarcerated party members failed after prison officials demanded that he gets clearance from the Commissioner General of prisons on the basis that he is a high profile person.
In a letter seen by 263Chat, Chamisa through Shava Law Chambers said he does not fall into the category of visitors that are not allowed to visit.
“We act for and on behalf of Nelson Chamisa, the President of the Citizens Coalition for Change (a political party) at whose instance we write, kindly note our interest. Our client advises that on divers occasions, he attempted to visit these individuals at both Harare remand and Chikurubi Maximum prisons, respectively, but upon arrival he was denied access.
“He was advised by the prison guards that he was specifically barred from visiting anyone in prison detention without your written permission. The basis for this requirement could not be easily ascertained from these guards. We advise that in terms of section 50(5)( c) any person who is detained, including a sentenced prisoner, has a right to communicate with, and be visited by a relative or anyone else of their choice, subject to reasonable restrictions which may be imposed for the proper administration of prisons or places of detention,” read part of the letter.
The letter adds “Further, a careful perusal of your prison policies would reveal that there is only a single category of visitors that are not allowed visit, these are those in need of conjugal rights. Our client does not fall in that bracket and as such he ought to have been allowed to visit the aforementioned individuals.
“We are also aware that in terms of your visiting requirements, a visitor is mandated to produce his/her National ID or Valid Passport or Valid Driver’s Licence. Our client is a holder of all these documents and as such he meets your requirements for the purposes of visiting any inmate and in particular, the individuals who make subject of this correspondence.”
The lawyers sought to know if it was now a requirement for Chamisa to get permission from the Commissioner General.
“We are of the firm view that the guards, in trying to implement a patently unlawful policy, which seems to be targeted at one individual, our client, might have acted without your blessings. We do not see how your esteemed office would craft a targeted policy that offends against the peremptory provisions of section 56 of the constitution which guarantees our client the right to equal protection of the law.
“We found no reason to approach the courts for recourse before having inquired from you on whether or not it is now a requirement that our client must first get permission from yourself before visiting the aforementioned individuals, and if so kindly furnish us with a copy of the said policy document.
“Assuming there is such a policy, and without pre- empting our views on its legality or otherwise, we kindly seek clearance for our client to be able to visit members and supporters of his political party. If needs be, our client is amenable to any reasonable conditions which you might impose in the constitutional discharge of your duties in terms of section 50(5) (c) of the constitution,” said Shava law chambers