Driving 5km after branching off at the 40km peg along the Masvingo-Beitbridge highway, some tell-tell signs of human inhabitation manifest themselves from a parked District Development Fund (DDF) tractor used in repairing the road.
Then, what one sees next is a big signpost inscribed with the institution’s name, and some nurses in sparkling white uniforms, trudging to their residence for lunch.
In sharp contrast to the angelic-white uniforms of the health personnel, some mentally challenged patients in old green uniforms can be seen crowded inside a fortified enclosure.
They seem unhappy, judging by the look of some who have been successfully rehabilitated.
“Welcome brother, welcome, I am still here where you left me, but I want to go back home as I am now feeling well,” said one of the inmates who had been successfully rehabilitated.
The inmate, according to one nurse, has been at the institution for close to three years and has never been visited by a relative.
“This place has been turned into a human dumpsite. Once they are left here, their relatives forget about them,” said one of the nurses.
“This makes the process of re-integrating them into society more difficult.”
Ngomahuru, built by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1920 and taken over by white settler government five years later, currently houses 158 inmates, the highest number since independence.
A few years back, the highest intake recorded ever was 70, but it has risen sharply because of patients who have overstayed.
The patients stay in a dormitory that houses about 50 of them each on single beds.
The men’s toilets were an eyesore with one of the toilet’s seat broken.
Food supplies were also said to be dwindling after government cut funding for the hospital.
Asked on a number of issues, among them the welfare of the inmates, and whether their increase did not strain the hospital’s food supplies, acting medical superintendent, Amos Shindi, refused to comment.
“I am not allowed to talk to the press, talk to the provincial medical director, Dr Robert Mudyiradima,” he said.
Mudyiradima was said to be out of office for the greater part of last week attending a workshop in Kadoma.
Repeated efforts to contact him on his mobile phone proved fruitless.
The 100% increase of psychiatric cases at Ngomahuru is also attributed to new cases of mental disorders spawned by the June 27 electoral violence where perpetrators are said to be facing “justice” from the avenging spirits of the people they murdered.
According to the Movement for Democratic Change under Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, close to 200 of their party supporters were murdered in the bloody elections, but no single arrest has been made so far.