Lawyers representing detained journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on 1 September 2020 told Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna that the journalist is not feeling well as he is feverish and having severe headaches.
The defence team led by Advocate Taona Nyamakura said Chin’ono had a high temperature and was also feverish. They said the journalist had been examined and subjected to a COVID-19 test by his doctor on 31 August 2020.
The results of the tests were still unknown as of yesterday.
According to his lawyers, Chin’ono who appeared in court on remand today had indicated to prison officials at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, that he did not wish to go to court (today) for health reasons.
His doctor had also advised that he should not be in contact with other people for now, pending the COVID-19 test results.
He was, however, still brought to court and remanded to 14 September 2020 after the defence gave notice of its intention to apply for refusal of further remand at his next court appearance, should the State not have a trial date by then.
Responding to the complaints raised by the defence, the State led by Tendai Shonhayi, said from the prison doctor’s assessment, the journalist was fine.
The prosecutor, however, said he had a “slightly elevated temperature” yesterday (31 August 2020), but was not showing any signs of COVID-19, such as shortness of breath, and was therefore not a threat to other prisoners or to the court.
The State said if Chin’ono was truly unwell, there was no reason for him to refuse to be seen by the prison doctor.
Magistrate Nduna directed the defence lawyers to submit a report by Chin’ono’s private doctor to enable the magistrate to properly consider the accused’s concerns.
Meanwhile, ruling by High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi on Chin’ono’s second bail appeal is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, Wednesday, 2 September 2020.
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The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.