Madzore sees hope in darkness: Part I

HARARE - Firebrand MDC youth leader Solomon Madzore  spent 405 days in prison on allegations of murdering a policeman in Glen View, one of Harare’s poor townships.

During his incarceration, the training and word he received in earlier life when he was at a theological college  became his bulwark.

And the former University of Zimbabwe student missed so many things, but the biggest of them was his family and of course, his conjugal rights, being a married man.

 “If I had gone for two years, I would have asked Beatrice Mtetwa to launch a lawsuit in the courts for me to be allowed this right. Before I got married, I spent five years training to be a Catholic priest. I delayed my sexual debut; I was a virgin till 24. I believe the more you do it the more you want to do it,” he opened up to the Daily News this week.

“I tend to be philosophical. One would need to kill me to break me but sex is a drive. It is energy. I would do a bit of martial arts (in prison) to discipline myself and focus my energy elsewhere”.

The opportunity to see the outside world, have a reunion with his adorable wife and children, which had seemed doomed because of his lengthy time in remand prison, came when he was freed on November 15.

Madzore and 28 other activists, drawn from Glen View, a stronghold of the MDC, are accused of murdering police Inspector Petros Mutedza in the volatile high density suburb in May 2011.

He is out on bail, together with Lovemore Taruvinga Magaya but 27 others are still languishing in remand prison as they battle to get bail.

 “The feeling of meeting with my family was great, it cannot be explained. My wife supported me so much while I was in prison.

“She would bring food and my mind was at ease because I never imagined she could leave me for another man while I was in bondage.”

In typical Shona custom, Madzore said he was considering sending cattle to his wife’s family as a gesture of appreciation for their daughter’s faithfulness and unwavering support.

As Madzore spoke, there was a feeling of a man who had done a lot of thinking while incarcerated. Asked about his typical day in prison; he went in deep thought and described the experience as out of the ordinary.

“My prison experiences were out of the ordinary. I am one person who regards human freedom as sacred. If there are rules for keeping animals in a zoo with dignity there should be rules for looking after human beings that are incarcerated.

“One gets into a very difficult situation but you get over it and start to adapt and live. A human being adjusts.”

Before he delved into details of his typical day in prison, Madzore detoured and spoke of the other 27 co-accused persons.

 “Before I talk to you, I actually pray that something positive will come out of the bail application. I pray that something positive will happen because remember the Zinasu slogan “an injury to one is an injury to all”.

“The remaining 27 accused should be freed. As the president of the youth assembly of MDC, I will not rest until they are let out of prison.

“Even if it means I am going to be incarcerated again I will put pressure if necessary. Whether it is diplomatic pressure or other measures to make sure that they are free, I will do so.”

The youth leader blamed police chief Augustine Chihuri for letting the courts do the work for his forces.

“All Chihuri wants is to arrest people without investigations. Investigations are done while someone is in custody. Thanks to Chihuri — I was in custody for over a year without a case. I think we have an inclusive government that is too lenient; we should not tolerate that.”

Madzore was incarcerated in cell Number 16 at Chikurubi, the one that belonged to the late Zanu PF zealot, Godfrey “Madzibaba” Nzira of Chitungwiza.

 “My prison number was 746/11 and I basically spent all my time in that cell. I would wake up at 4.30am, do exercises, bath and eat a cereal. My wife and other visitors used to bring me food that was mainly snacks, cereals and drinks because visitors were not allowed to bring hot meals.

“I used to mix the cereals, fruit and sour milk to make my breakfast. My diet consisted of cold food and sometimes I would eat food cooked for us (prisoners) and this comprised brown sadza and spinach often without cooking oil and in small quantities. The food was horrible.”

Depending on the day, Madzore would be shackled after 7am in preparation to go to the courts for his hearing. He would join other prisoners going to court, hop into the prison van which he said was known as a Grey Maraya in prison lingo.

At the courts, strong feelings would go through his mind as he watched relatives seating in the gallery.

“It was painful to see my relatives; on the other hand it was very elating to see some people. Some relatives and friends were not able to visit me in prison but they found time to come to the courts, this made me happy. I got a glimpse of the outside world and I would talk to them briefly.

“People wondered what would happen to me. Some feared that I would never come out of prison but as the state’s case crumbled, they discovered I would come out.

“I thought I would I come out after elections.

“I was actually counting down on days to elections and I knew that when my president Tsvangirai started ruling he would send a motorcade with sirens to get me out of prison”

After court, Madzore and others would be ferried back to the prison where he would have a bath on return.

 Asked about how he managed to get two baths in his cell, he explained that Red Cross sunk two boreholes at Chikurubi and prisoners with staff status; that is those who were about to be released, would fetch water for him for the luxury of a bath.

Sleep would often not come easily because of thin blankets and lice.

“The winter was most difficult, I had very thin blankets and the lice were attacking me but the human body adapts, my skin became so pale but I took to the situation.” - Margaret Chinowaita, Community Affairs Editor

*To be continued tomorrow

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