HARARE - In a stunning pronouncement, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa has claimed that convicted rapist — Martin Gumbura — led the deadly riots that rocked Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison last week which left at least five people dead.
Mnangagwa told Parliament yesterday that the clergyman was allegedly the ringleader of the group that caused the disturbances that sent shock waves around the country.
“From what we have got, I can say that the incidents started in a section where Gumbura is housed and we are reliably informed that he chaired the conspiracy to break out,” Mnangagwa, who is also Justice minister, said.
He said about 100 prisoners had conspired to break out of prison, adding that the prisoners opted to use the unavailability of meat at the prison as a pretext for the disturbances.
“The report that I am giving is what transpired. Measures have since been taken to tighten security at the facility,” he said.
Currently 11 people — three prison officials and eight prisoners from Chikurubi Maximum Prison — are said to be battling for their lives after the mutiny.
According to Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) spokesperson Elizabeth Banda, the violence started after the inmates were served sadza and vegetables.
Although prison breaks have been few and far between in Zimbabwe, one of the most talked about involved notorious armed robbers Steven Chidhumo and Edgar Masendeke.
There have been concerns over the years about the deteriorating quality of food prisoners get, as well as other welfare issues affecting many of Zimbabwe’s correctional facilities.
Civic organisations have also raised the red flag about alleged prisoner rights abuses, including access to health care, clothing and proper legal representation.
The Independent End Time Message Church founder, Gumbura, was jailed for 40 years last year following his conviction on four counts of rape and contravention of the Censorship Act.
Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya sentenced the 57-year-old former pastor to 15 years in prison on the first two counts of rape, while he got 10 years on the other two counts.
From the total of 50 years, Mujaya suspended 10 years on condition of Gumbura’s good behaviour.
A further four months, which are to run concurrently with the 40-year prison term, were added on a charge of possession of pornographic material.