Ousted Canadian Doctor seeks refuge at Canadian embassy

The sources said Dr Paul Thistle went into the embassy a few weeks ago after church leaders in Zimbabwe tried to send him back to his native Canada after he allegedly raised concern over the mismanagement of donor funds by the church leaders.

He was supposed to have flown out of the country last month but he has been refusing to leave and was supported by Chiweshe villagers who demonstrated for days against his ouster by church leaders.

“Dr Thistle is at the Canadian embassy that’s where he and his family have been living since they left Chiweshe last month,” highly placed Salvation Army church members told Radio VOP.

Officials at the embassy could neither deny nor confirm that he is at the embassy.

“We cannot comment on that, we are strictly bound by privacy laws and this matter that you are asking about is a very sensitive issue, so we are sorry we cannot assist you,” an embassy official said when approached for a comment.

Thistle told his supporters via an email on August 6 that the Salvation Army had ordered him to leave his post as chief medical officer and only full-time doctor at the 144-bed Howard Hospital which serves 270 000 people in the rural Chiweshe.

This immediately sparked riots in the rural area with villagers attacking church leaders who had visited the hospital to serve Thistle with letters of transfer to Toronto.

Thistle had spent 17 years at the hospital and was married to a Zimbabwean woman and the two have two sons. He will be remembered for defying Zanu (PF) militias and treated badly injured suspected MDC members during the 2008 election.