BY TATENDA CHITAGU
FORMER Masvingo West legislator, Tachiona Chiminya (MDC-T), has given the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) and the Health and Child Care ministry a 24-hour ultimatum to resolve power and water problems at Ngomahuru Mental Hospital in Masvingo, or face legal action.
In a letter dated February 10, Chiminya through his lawyer Martin Mureri of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), claimed that inmates at the hospital were forced to bath in Magwagwadza River due to water shortages at the institution.
Chiminya said this posed a big risk for the inmates as they might drown or be attacked by crocodiles.
“We are reliably advised that patients at Ngomahuru Hospital have been, for the past one-and a-half months, bathing in Magwgwadza River which is about a kilometre away from the mental hospital.
“Patients from the institution were being taken to the river, both males and females, at the same time for a bath. We are further advised that residents of the area have been raising concerns with the authorities at the hospital, who instead have advised that they have no other option because of the incessant water challenges at the hospital.”
The letter also stated that Zinwa was failing to pump water to the mental health institution, while the authority blamed the ZETDC for failing to provide electricity to pump the water.
“We write to advise you that the situation is untenable and an affront to the dignity of the mental institution whose inmates are protected by the Constitution of this country.
“The right to health of the patients and the community is seriously compromised in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases. More than 200 patients bathing in one source of water that is also used by the community is deplorable and an emergency health situation,” Chiminya said.
“The community is at great risk as patients who are supposed to be confined in an institution are being released daily into the community without any safety measures being taken. The patients themselves are being put into great risk of drowning or being attacked by crocodiles.”
He said if no action was taken, he would take legal action against Zinwa, ZETDC and the Health ministry.
The institutions are yet to respond.