'Inmates were not denied toiletries'

HARARE - The chief prison officer at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison has flatly refuted claims that they denied inmates accused of masterminding food riots at the institution access to toiletries.

Blessing Chiduke, 25, Luckmore Matambanadzo, 39, Luck Mhungu, 38, Taurai Dodzo, 47, Thomas Chacha, 37, Thulani Chizema, 32, Jacob Sibanda, 28, and Elijah Vhumbunu, 38, are facing charges of attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances in relation to malicious damage to property and incitement to assault or resisting a peace officer.

Chief prison officer Desire Mutsindiri told the court that he advised the prisoners to inform their relatives to bring them toiletries.

“I dispute claims by the accused persons that we defied a court order and denied them access to toiletries,” he said.

“Prisons are not in a position to provide toiletries and relatives of the accused persons can supply the items. Most of the said property was destroyed by the accused persons themselves who threw the stuff into the fire during the riot.”

On May 10, magistrate Tendai Mahwe passed an order for prison officials to ensure that the eight were furnished with toiletries.

However, Tawanda Hofisi who is representing the eight prisoners, told the court that the order had been defied.

“Your worship, I wish to highlight to the court that the accused persons were never provided the necessary toiletry and sanitary facilities even after you put an order. They continue to suffer at the hands of prison officials,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tapson Dzvetero, who is representing jailed pastor Robert Martin Gumbura, made an application for his client to be excused from the proceedings because he did not suffer the same plight as his co-accused.

Gumbura was remanded to June 5.

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