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Man blames prison for deadly ailment

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IN a heart-rending story, a prisoner incarcerated at Khami Prison said he is suffering from a possibly deadly ailment, acne keloidalis, blaming the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS) authorities of being reluctant to assist him.

STAFF REPORTER

He also accused prison authorities of depriving him of a chance to be freed during the last year’s presidential pardon granted to thousands of prisoners.

In a letter, Kesari Dube said he was a convicted prisoner at Khami Prison, describing the place as a “human slaughter point”.

“I have a problem of an illness which started three years ago. I am now desperate and seek to know if I have rights as a prisoner,” he wrote.

“In 2011, I was infected with a disease known as acne keloidalis while in prison. The disease is said to be a heavy growth of the streptococcus and it is very painful.

“I have tried to find out from the nurses if this is a cancer, but they deny.”

Dube, sounding desolate, claimed his condition was debilitating and if he could prove it was cancer, he would commit suicide.

“The disease has damaged my scalp and it appears on my face and private parts,” he said.

He said when President Robert Mugabe granted amnesty to prisoners early this year, he hoped he would be one of the beneficiaries, but that did not happen. He continues to languish in prison.

“Almost everybody in prison thought I would be the first person to be released because they saw me suffering,” he said.

The prisoner alleges that there was corruption in the manner in which the amnesty was implemented, claiming he could not pay authorities some money to facilitate his pardon.

Dube’s relatives claim they were asked to pay $2 000 to facilitate his release, money they could not afford. He claims that some officials at the prison hospital told him there was nothing they could do for him as his condition was a result of witchcraft which conventional medicine could not cure.

Contacted for comment on the case, ZPCS spokesperson Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Banda yesterday said the allegations were unfounded and misleading.

She confirmed that the inmate, Mehluli Dube, alias “Kesari” was indeed, suffering from acne keloidalis and was receiving treatment from prison medical staff at Khami Maximum Prison Hospital.

“He was diagnosed with the disease upon admission into prison, implying he contracted it before incarceration,” Banda said.

“Our medical personnel are professionally trained and discharge their duties competently.

“Where specialised treatment is required, the prisoner requiring the treatment is referred to a public government hospital outside prison.”

Banda said Dube was serving a 35-year sentence for armed robbery, unlawful entry and theft.

“According to the Clemency Order No 1 of 2014, armed robbery falls under the specified offences, which disqualifies prisoners who committed armed robbery from benefitting from the amnesty,” she said.

“He could also not benefit on medical grounds as the medical officer who examined him during that period certified that he was not terminally ill, hence, he could not qualify for the presidential amnesty.

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