Prison horror

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was yesterday left shell-shocked  after the three MDC members who were released from remand prison on Wednesday recounted harrowing tales of the rigours of  prison life at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

Last Maengahama, an MDC national executive member, Harare councillor, Tungamirai Madzokera and Yvonne Musarurwa, a member of the Harare province youth assembly, were released after spending three years in remand prison on charges of murdering a police officer in Glen View, Harare in May 2011.

They deny the charge.

They were part of 29 MDC members who were arrested on a similar charge in 2011.  The other 21 were acquitted last year.

The trio visited Tsvangirai at his Highlands home and recounted how their lives were changed by the walls of prison, locked along with convicted criminals, even though they were still to be convicted.

They described life in overcrowded concrete cells with rats and lice.

Tsvangirai described the arrest and incarceration of the MDC members as persecution.

“Yours was not prosecution,” Tsvangirai said. 

“Yours was persecution. The biggest challenge in the face of economic challenges that the country is facing is that in prison there is no food."

“I want to thank you for the courage and determination that you have shown. I am glad that you have the determination to see real change.  The struggle continues until we attain real change.  We will always be with you in this struggle.”

The trio told Tsvangirai that although they spent nearly three years in remand prison, they remained emboldened in their fight for real change and a new democratic Zimbabwe.

“We thank the Lord for this opportunity. What happened on 29 January, 2013, we did not expect that we would be granted bail at the High Court,” Musarurwa told Tsvangirai.

Musarurwa said when she was remanded in custody on June 3, 2011, she and the late Rebecca Mafukeni were removed from the female section of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison to the male section where serving prisoners are committed to.

“They told us that we should not stay with other female prisoners as we were dangerous MDC activists,” she said. 

“Life was hard.  We only saw the light of the day for 30 minutes each day.

“Right now the conditions in prison are very pathetic and there is serious hunger and people are dying every day.”

Flanked by her parents, Musarurwa recounted how devastated she was when she lost her friend and fellow inmate Mafukeni, who died behind bars on August 12 last year.

“My hope was to come out from prison with my friend but that was not to be.

“It was a painful experience and whenever I saw people dying in jail, I just looked up to God,” Musarurwa said.

“I never looked forward to walking out of prison. Instead of being kept at Harare Remand Prison, we were taken to Chikurubi Maximum Prison as we were considered a security risk.

The three said the hardest part of their lives was when Mafukeni died while still in remand prison. They claimed prison officials denied her medical attention.

“The situation in prison is not conducive to human survival,” Maengahama said.

“There is no clothing, food and most prisoners are ill because of food shortages, with prisoners getting only one meal a day. The Zanu PF government is failing to provide meals.

“At Chikurubi, there is no water and inmates go for weeks without bathing and even water to drink is now scarce while there is serious overcrowding, with cells meant for 15 inmates accommodating 37 people.
“The prisoners are getting infected with tuberculosis and other communicable diseases.”

Like Musarurwa, Maengahama was incarcerated where convicted hard-core prisoners are serving.

“There are 400 very, very dangerous criminals in that section and only three of us were not convicted with the other two being mentally-ill patients who were waiting to go for medical examination,” Maengahama said.

“The room where I slept is supposed to accommodate 15 people but we were 37 in that room.

“When one wanted to turn the other way, he would ask the whole group to do the same.

“We do not consider that we were in remand prison, we were serving and it is said that the judiciary allows people to be in remand prison for four to six years.”

Maengehama said he is lucky to be alive and praised his wife, who steadfastly visited him, even when close friends and family had deserted him.

“I found my wife still around and she is the only person among my relatives who visited me for more than three times,” said Maengehama, who plans to pen a book on his prison experiences.

Madzokera said: “During my incarceration, I learnt how ugly the judiciary and the prison system in the country are. 

“There is hunger, no clothing and it shows that there is need for real transformation in the country. 
“However, during my stay in remand prison, I managed to study and complete a diploma in public relations and I will be enrolling for further studies this year.”

He added: “We learnt a lot in prison. In politics,one expects to be arrested and that is what we went through.

“However, one painful thing we always felt is that we should bury our comrades like Rebecca but we never had the chance as we struggled in the overcrowded prisons.”

Tsvangirai said: “We have a struggle to defeat an unjust justice delivery system.

“In the face of economic challenges that the country is facing, the conditions are even more horrendous in prison. When I was jailed I used to eat mealie-meal mixed with cold water.”

Comments (20)

so who murdered the police and who murdered cain nkala. the mystrey still goes on. wow.

zim - 31 January 2014

Sad...so sad.

Next_ - 31 January 2014

WE SALUTE YOU. GALLANT FIGHTERS. DEMOCRACY WILL ONE DAY COME.

Ziziharinanyanga - 31 January 2014

Zanu Pf is never good on earth Zanu Prison Services is a party controlled by the evil leaders.I understand God is watching all this pple.

bk - 31 January 2014

Justice delayed is justice denied. We can the justice delivery system allow people to be imprisoned heartlessly like that without conviction?? After all the state case if very weak if not foolish as these cadres were arrested clandestinely by overzealous police officers without any shred of evidence linking the accused to the case.

Zvandasara Chikurubi - 31 January 2014

Continue the good fight Comrades. Zimbabwe shall be free again

I can smell the coffee - 31 January 2014

You must taste betrayal in your mouth, walking into that highlands mansion and being fed the same old rhetoric how the struggle continues... If i were you, i would pick all the pieces and move on, unless of course you are all offered a more meaningful political role within MDC.

taps - 31 January 2014

Cdes....remember you were prisoners and that should be clarified. Whether you were sleeping on open space or not or you were sleeping on a luxurious bed.....you remain a prisoner...We don't have prisons like those in those Western countries who are even pouring money to your party. What was the reason for you to even waste your precious time to consult Morgiza after all. Do you expect to be treated like a KING when you are in prison. Ask even your president how it was when he was once a prisoner at both Harare Central cells. Ask even Robert Mugabe during horror times with the British. So my point is this...whats special with you guys....For you to be a leader in Zimbabwe, it does not come easy. The system was left by your sponsors who are mainly the British and the government under the ailing President is following suit. Does Morgan with his sponsors have the capacity to build more prisons or it will be the vice-versa....he will use the same prisons and resources to torcher is enemies within the ZANU PF government if he takes over. So the story still remains a fix to all of us cdes and friends. Go to Europe and you will the same prison situation. So stop being cry babies when it comes to democracy. Work hard for you to rule Zimbabwe just like how these guys in ZANU PF and how they suffered. Don't waste your precious time to consult Mr open mouth, open zip and shut his mind hence his call to resign honourably.

clemence tashaya - 31 January 2014

Hope Elizabeth prepared some tea for you poor released inimates. Ndokunge achigona kugadzira tea or coffee yacho. Did you see how your leaders is living. What about you...so poor from Mbare or Mabvuku is it. From prison what are you going to do. Better go back to school l hope....

clemence tashaya - 31 January 2014

clemence tashaya-I am praying for you.Your life is void.

geofry chihwa - 31 January 2014

Such is African politics where police officers become political officers who actively participate in politics whilst carrying out state duties. Well come back comrades. Such conditions should remain like that for the people who put them in place will have to experience them one day for it is said who so ever digs a pit shall fall in it.To them i say tambatachidemo muswe ndakabata. Nguva ichasvika

SHAVA - 31 January 2014

Kuna mukoma Clemence. Please confirm again if prisoners in Europe live on one meal a day "sperida"; are denied judgement for three years and see the light of day for 30 minutes each day. Being so knowledgeable about prison conditions, also shade us light on whether the same is for SA (I'm told they have one of the best constitutions in the World - and dearly hope they follow it!. If they do'nt then they are doomed like us.

Timothy - 1 February 2014

vanaClemence kani, ndokungwara here ikoko....

snowden - 1 February 2014

To Snowden and Timothy....jere ijere varume. Whether uri kuNdazu kwamunodya sadza ne nyevhe kana chicken as jere ijere cdes and friends. Ndosaka pachiShona we call it "Kupika jere". Zvakangofanana nekuenda kuHell. wakaenda kujere kuno nakirwa here. To me "its a BIG kwete cdes adnd friends. saka unoba nekupara mhaka kuti unogara zvakanaka mujeri. Munopenga mese and hamuna kukwana di?

clemence tashaya - 1 February 2014

@clemence.usataura semunhu akaruma duzvi.

mkanya - 1 February 2014

@clemence.usataura semunhu akaruma duzvi.

mkanya - 1 February 2014

@clemence.usataura semunhu akaruma duzvi.

mkanya - 1 February 2014

Clemence urimboko. Mukosho waamai vako.

Kachembere kekwaChivi - 4 February 2014

i am praying for all of u

boss - 4 February 2014

i love u

rudo - 4 February 2014

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