No jail for Ingutsheni staff who beat up mental patient
THE High Court has quashed a two-year jail term for three Ingutsheni Central Hospital workers who were convicted of assaulting a mental patient for refusing to eat isitshwala resulting in him losing three teeth.
The patient, who was admitted at the hospital, sustained facial bruises and a swollen eye.
George Samambwa (45) of Nketa suburb, Vusumuzi Nzima (39) of Entumbane suburb and Chamunorwa Mugwagwa (38) of Sizinda suburb, all employed as general hands, allegedly ganged up and pinned down Samson Ndlovu before they brutally assaulted him.
The trio was convicted by Bulawayo magistrate Mrs Gladmore Mushove of assault. They were sentenced to an effective 18 months in jail after six months were conditionally suspended for five years.
Samambwa, Mugwagwa and Nzima appealed to the High Court.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi sitting with Justice Nokuthula Moyo during a criminal appeals court, upheld the appeal.
The judge said Ndlovu’s testimony could not be relied upon because of his mental condition.
“More importantly it is common cause that when the events of November 27, 2013 unfolded, the complainant was in fact suffering from mental illness. Therefore his testimony could not be relied upon by a court of law to reject the explanation given by the appellants,” said Justice Mathonsi.
The judge set aside both conviction and sentence and substituted them with an acquittal.
“The conviction and sentence of the court a quo are hereby set aside and substituted with the verdict that the appellants are hereby found not guilty and acquitted,” ruled Justice Mathonsi.
In their appeal through lawyer Mr Shepherd Chamunorwa from Calderwood, Bryce Hendrie and Partners, the three men said Ndlovu was violent and attacked them.
They said they then teamed up to subdue him.
“The appellants teamed up and took the complainant to the treatment room where a nurse was waiting to inject him with a tranquiliser. It was during that struggle that the complainant fell headlong and sustained injuries,” said the trio’s lawyer.
It was the State case that on November 27 in 2013 at about 12.45PM, Samson’s mother, Rebecca Muzorori, visited her son at Ingutsheni Hospital and gave him food, which he ate.
About 15 minutes later, Samson and other patients were beckoned to the facility’s dining hall by Mugwagwa for lunch.
Samson refused to eat and that did not go down well with Mugwagwa and he shouted at him, saying “Uyazenzisa (you are disrespectful) we are going to iron you.”
He allegedly grabbed the complainant by his neck and pinned him down before Samambwa and Nzima joined him.
They allegedly punched Samson several times in the face and kicked him in the mouth resulting in him losing three front teeth.
As the complainant started bleeding profusely, the three men took him to the toilet where they ordered him to throw his teeth into the chamber. They then injected him with an intoxicating drug resulting in him falling unconscious.
Then court heard that when Samson’s mother visited her son the following day, she discovered that he had a wound on the head and a swollen eye.
He narrated his ordeal to his mother who in turn took up the issue with hospital authorities and they promised to investigate.
The court heard that hospital authorities tried to sweep the matter under the carpet prompting Samson’s mother to report the matter to the police leading to the trio’s arrest.