Four United States health workers and doctors from Zimbabwe and New Zealand were granted bail on Monday after their arrest last week on charges of illegally running a clinic that provides Aids drugs. “Each of you shall pay bail of $200 and you shall surrender your passports to the clerk of court,” magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi said.

The state did not oppose bail. Trial was set for September 27.The four Americans from Oakland, California, were identified as Gloria Cox Crowell (48); Gregory Renard Miller (66); David Greenberg (62); and Anthony Eugene Jones (39).New Zealand doctor Reid Andrew John Cheyne (49) and Zimbabwean doctor Tembinkosi Ncomanzi (37) were also granted bail.Crowell is facing a separate charge of importing medical drugs for distribution in the country.The Americans belong to the Allen Temple Baptist church, based in Oakland.Cheyne is a long-time resident who works for the University of Zimbabwe health department. Ncomanzi is also a doctor at a local hospital.

‘Embarrassed’
Their lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, said his clients denied the charges.

“I am embarrassed that the state has decided to charge them. They were not distributing any drugs. They are the ones who were sent by the Allen Temple Baptist church to observe the drug distribution,” Samkange said. Samkange told journalists that his clients were working for a charity called Mother of Peace, which caters for Aids orphans.

The Americans came to Zimbabwe to monitor the progress and to see how the Aids drugs were being distributed, Samkange said.The US embassy said the volunteer work has stretched over a decade, with the church working at a Harare clinic and another in Mutoko, about 100km north-east of the capital.Zimbabwe’s public health sector is still recovering from the country’s decade-long political and economic crisis, which saw most hospitals and clinics close.

Public health facilities have begun reopening and restocking since the formation of a power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February 2009.—AFP