Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was unconscious when he was hospitalised in South Africa in July 2019, and his doctor was “furious” when he was flown to South Africa and driven to a hotel and not a hospital, the Harare Magistrates Court heard on Monday.
John Mangwiro, who was Zimbabwe’s deputy health minister at the time and also doubling up as Chiwenga’s doctor, said this as he testified in the trial of the former army general’s wife, Marry Mubaiwa, who is accused of attempted murder.
Under cross examination by Mubaiwa’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, Mangwiro said after Chiwenga was finally admitted to hospital in Pretoria, his health took a turn for the worst whenever Mubaiwa visited.
“When she came to visit the vice president, she would make sure that we all went out of the room. When she walked in, the patient would be awake and when she left the patient would be non-responsive and in critical condition. His condition would’ve worsened,” Mangwiro testified.
“It happened in South Africa and India.”
Asked what steps he took to verify his suspicions, Mangwiro responded: “I alerted the security and the doctor who was attending to him. We had an intention to put cameras in the room.”
Chiwenga’s physician Dr Willi Leo Sieling ordered tests in South Africa which concluded that he was being given medication that had not been prescribed, according to Mangwiro.
“I thought so as well. Because why would his condition deteriorate?”
Mtetwa told Mangwiro that Sieling’s evidence was that a nurse, Warren Sibanda, swapped urine that had been taken from Chiwenga.
Mangwiro said he was not aware.
Mtetwa suggested that the person who administered the unprescribed drugs had to be medically trained.
“Was doctor Sieling wrong when he gave that evidence?” Mtetwa asked.
“I’m saying it can be given by anyone,” said Mangwiro in response.
Mangwiro told court that Chiwenga was very sick when he was taken to South Africa in 2019.
He however denied being in charge of the team and to have given instructions to take Chiwenga to the hotel first before taking the him to hospital when they arrived in South Africa.
Said Mangwiro: “His level of consciousness was about 10 (15/15 is for normal, fully conscious person, lowest is 3 for someone still alive). He could respond to pain but was not fully aware of where he was. He could mumble. He could not converse. He could talk but not appreciate his surroundings. He couldn’t walk on his own. He needed assistance.
“When we got to South Africa, we had booked the hospital but I saw the entourage heading to the hotel. I confronted Mubaiwa and she said he needed to rest.”
The trial continues on November 27.