Concerns over the deteriorating health of detained Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera have intensified after he was seen limping as he attended a court session on Thursday.
The journalist, who was charged with economic crimes last month, is detained at Segerea prison.
According to Tanzanian politician Zitto Kabwe, who was in court today, Kabendera was experiencing severe pain in his right leg.
Investigative journalist @kabsjourno Kabendera was brought to court today, limping. His right leg in severe pains. Though brave and strong, he is sick. Trumped up, bogus and retaliatory charges against him must be dropped and he he gets treatment #FreeErickKabendera pic.twitter.com/ECVeoIWioM
— Zitto Kabwe Ruyagwa (@zittokabwe) September 12, 2019
On his part, Kabendera’s lawyer, Jebra Kambole, stated that Kisutu resident magistrate court directed today that the journalist be attended to by prison medics after the defense team raised serious complaints concerning their client’s health.
The magistrate adjourned the case to September 18, when the prosecution will be expected to present a medical assessment report on Kabendera’s condition.
Jebra Kambole, Wakili wa
Erick Kabendera ameeleza Mahakama kuwa Erick Kabendera bado ni Mgonjwa, amepooza Mguu wa kulia na bado ana shida ya kupumua hasa nyakati za usiku.#FreeErickKabendera #JusticeForKabendera pic.twitter.com/0CQNSq1ntY
— WateteziTV (@WateteziTV) September 12, 2019
On August 30, Kambole told Kisutu resident magistrate Janet Mtega that the freelancer needed urgent medical attention.
This is after he developed breathing problems while in custody.
Further, Kambole noted that Kabendera, who has been in custody for over a month now, was experiencing difficulties walking.
“Nilienda kumwona usiku wa kuamkia Agosti 21, 2019 nikakuta amepooza mguu na kushindwa kutembea kwa siku mbili pamoja na kuishiwa nguvu, sisi kama mawakili na ndugu hatujui nini anachoumwa, loosely translating to, His health has been deteriorating since August 21. He has difficulty breathing and has been complaining about numbness in one of his legs, ” said Kambole.
The lawyer requested the court to issue orders directing the state to facilitate Kabendera’s medical care.
“Kwa kuwa mteja wetu hajapata vipimo ambavyo vinastahili tunaomba mahakama ielekeze jeshi la magereza mteja weu apate kupimwa katika hospitali yoyote ya serikali ikiwemo muhimbili penye vipimo vya uhakika, loosely translating to, we request the court to instruct prisons authorities to take Kabendera to a government hospital for urgent medical attention, ” he added.
Several states and human right groups have condemned irregular arrest, detention and indictment of Kabendera by Tanzanian authorities.
He’s facing three counts of economic crimes including assisting an organised crime racket, money laundering, and failing to pay millions of dollars in tax, all between January 2015 and July 2019.
The groups now want the state to drop trumped-up charges against Kabendera and have him freed unconditionally.
When he last appeared in court last month, the trial magistrate adjourned the case for the third time.
This is after the prosecution stated that they were yet to complete investigations.
Defense lawyers urged the prosecutors to expedite the case and transfer it to Tanzania’s High Court subsequent hearings, where the journalist will be allowed to enter a plea.