/ 6 April 2008

SA technician being held in Zim admitted to hospital

South African satellite technician Sipho Maseko, who is being held in a Zimbabwean prison, has been admitted to St Anne’s Hospital in Harare after his blood-sugar levels reached danger levels, his employer, Globecast, said on Sunday.

Globecast spokesperson Melanie Gibb said Maseko, a diabetic who was running out of his medication, was looked at by a doctor from the South African embassy.

”His blood-sugar level is too high. It’s meant to be between three and six and his level is 25,” she said.

She said Maseko’s colleague, Abdulla Gaibee, was also sick and needed medication for bronchitis.

The two men were arrested on Friday March 28, and were acquitted of contravening the Information and Protection of Privacy Act on Friday.

However, they were re-arrested as they left the Harare court, seemingly under the premise that the judge’s ruling was not ”proper”.

Globecast, which has been providing satellite services to some broadcasters covering the Zimbabwean election, said the men had received the necessary accreditation to work in the country.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said the embassy in Zimbabwe was ”working on the matter” of Maseko’s hospitalisation.

He said the embassy, through the Foreign Affairs Department, would then go to the Zimbabwean Ministry of Correctional Services to appeal for Maseko’s transfer to hospital.

”Currently consular assistance is being rendered,” he said.

The men are being held at the Harare central police station. Their lawyers were expected to file for an application to the High Court in Harare for their release on Sunday.

Abdulla’s brother, Ebrahim, said the family and Globecast were still unaware of what charges the men were facing.

”As far as we are concerned, there are no formal charges,” said Ebrahim.

Earlier he said that despite the circumstances, the men were ”holding up well”.

He said Abdulla was trying to remain positive.

”It was his [29th] birthday yesterday [Saturday] and he spent it in jail,” he said.

”As far as we know, they haven’t been mistreated or harmed.”

He said the men had been appointed new counsel after their lawyers removed themselves for fear of further intimidation and harassment.

Maseko’s family declined to speak to the media. — Sapa