Tanzania: Prosecution Witness Recants Zitto's Claims

A PROSECUTION witness yesterday recanted claims by opposition political party leader Zitto Kabwe, allegedly linking the police to have killed patients that were forcefully removed from a hospital while receiving treatment after sustaining bullet wounds.

Before the Kisutu Resident Magistrates' Court in Dar es Salaam, Medical Doctor Ernest Nsumila said: "I inquired about the whereabouts of the three patients I attended to.

I was told by one of the relatives and the police assured me that they were all alive."

However, during crossexamination, the witness, who works at Nguruka Health Centre, Uvinza District, in Kigoma Region admitted that it was not proper for the police to take the patients to remand, while receiving treatment before they were discharged or allowed by the doctor, who was attending to them.

Dr Nsumila was testifying in a sedition trial of Mr Kabwe, ACT-Wazalendo leader, who is accusing the police of killing over 100 civilians in Uvinza District.

In his examination in chief led by a team of trial attorneys, Tumaini Kweka, Nassoro Katuga and Wankyo Simon, the witness told Principal Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi that on October 18, 2018 at about 6.40pm, while performing his duties, he received three patients from Mpeta Village.

According to the witness, they were in a critical condition, as they appeared tired and were complaining having pains, while profusely bleeding after sustaining bullet wounds on different parts of their bodies, notably in the stomach and chest during confrontation with the police. "These patients needed urgent treatment.

I did what I could to save their lives. I directed their relatives, who had accompanied them to go to the police to get PF3 forms as I continued attending to them," the witness told the court. Dr Nsumila explained that he gave them pain killers and antibiotic medicine and later water drips.

"A few moments later some police officers stormed their way into the hospital."

He said the police wanted to take away the patients having suspected them of taking part in the killings of two police officers in an operation to evict some Mpeta villagers from the areas they were conducting agricultural activities.

The witness told the court that he had to appeal to the police to let him treat the patients first as they were in a serious condition.

"The police called off their mission, but could not leave the area until I left the ward, where the patients were admitted and went to his office to perform other duties," he said.

"After a while, one of the police called and informed me that I should not bother to look for the patients as they (police) have already taken them from the hospital for other police procedures.

I have never seen the patients since they were taken by the police," the witness testified. He further said after sometime, one of the police, who identified himself as an investigator came to him to record a statement.

During the session, the witness said, asked the police the whereabouts of the patients. Dr Nsumila said the police informed him that the patients were in the remand prison alive.

The witness also said he got an opportunity to meet with one of the relatives, who also confirmed that they were alive.

When cross-examined by defence counsel Getruda Bernard the witness admitted that he was not certain that the patients were alive since he had not meet with them.

He also said it was improper to take away the patients from the hospital before being discharged by a doctor.

"The police could have reinforced security in the hospital, while patients were getting treatment.

It was improper for the patients, who were in a serious condition to be taken away by the police before getting approval of the doctor," the witness told the court.

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