Lawyers rescue patient detained by hospital authorities over medical bill

AN intervention by lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has secured the release of a Harare woman who had been detained at Harare Central Hospital (HCH) after failing to settle some medical bills.

On Wednesday 11 February 2014, authorities at HCH refused to release Nyarai Gwaze, who had been admitted at the government-run hospital after she sought medical assistance for an ailment from the medical institution on Friday 7 February 2014. The hospital insisted that Gwaze should first settle her medical bill amounting to $133 before being discharged. The hospital authorities even refused to consider Gwaze’s offer to pay $50 as down payment so as to secure her release with the balance being settled on or before Friday 28 February 2014.

The refusal prompted Gwaze to engage ZLHR which protested against the illegal detention of the Harare woman as objectionable and demanded her immediate release.

In a letter written to Peggy Zvavamwe, the chief executive officer of HCH, Gwaze’s lawyer, Tawanda Zhuwarara of ZLHR took offence with the hospital’s functionaries in the Finance department who barred her client from leaving the confines of the hospital ward until she settled her medical bill in full.

Zhuwarara protested that HCH had committed the delict of false imprisonment and had violated Section 49 of the Constitution as the hospital had no authority at law to restrict the personal liberty of Gwaze for non-payment of medical fees.

Section 49 of the Constitution guarantees the right to personal liberty and outlaws the imprisonment of citizens merely on the ground of inability to fulfill contractual obligations.

Zhuwarara warned HCH that failure to release Gwaze would leave him with no option but to approach the courts on an urgent basis for a remedy to end the detention of the patient.

Resultantly, on Wednesday 12 February 2014, HCH authorities relented and released Gwaze from their bondage.

Post published in: Politics

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