BY CATHERINE MUCHIRI
A DEAF couple in Masvingo was forced to spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day in remand prison due to unavailability of a sign language interpreter in court.
Sarah Ndandadzi and Richard Mugove were released on $5 000 bail yesterday by Masvingo magistrate Patience Madondo following the intervention of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
The couple faced charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer who wanted to confiscate their wares for illegal vending.
The couple was represented by ZLHR lawyer Collen Maboke.
“There was a communication breakdown between police officers and the couple. Ndandadzi and Mugove, who are deaf, failed to understand the attack on them by the police officers, neither did they realise that they were under arrest” Maboke said.
In court, Maboke complained that his clients were ill-treated by the police.
He told Madondo that the arrest of his clients was unlawful as they were not informed of the reasons and that they were severely assaulted upon
Madondo ordered that the couple be hospitalised and treated for injuries.
In March, the Judicial Service Commission, in partnership with the United Nations and other organisations, produced the first sign language manual for Zimbabwe’s justice system.
The manual will help justice actors in providing more inclusive services.