Inmates report Chikurubi horror

HARARE - A truck carrying scores of prisoners from Chikurubi Maximum Prison arrives at the Harare Magistrates Courts.

The occupants peer through the meshed barricade looking to spot wives, husbands, brothers, sisters and friends, as they are brought to answer further charges.

Prisoners tell of being crammed together in tiny cells amidst heavy beatings, torture and unhealthy food rations.

Some of the prisoners are just starting lengthy jail terms while some are pre-trial detainees.

One man held in Harare’s notorious Chikurubi prison is Blessing Makomborero Chiduke, 25, an armed car robber who is serving an 18-year jail sentence on the back of more pending charges.

Chiduke of 218 Munemo Road in Ascot, Gweru had just started serving the 18-year jail term when he was called back to court in August to answer to another car theft charge.

He quickly pleaded guilty and confessed he had committed two other similar offences.

The presiding magistrate Hosea Mujaya allowed police to prepare the docket for the further charges before passing down a 10-year jail term, which would run concurrently with the 18 years.  Chiduke is a man clinging desperately on to life.

His ribs are starkly carved across his body; his arms dangle uselessly from his shoulders. From somewhere, somehow, he has summoned a smile.

Last week, just two months after his jail ordeal began, he returned to the site of his incarceration for the first time.

He regrets his actions and tells the court of starvation; the merciless beatings that left weals down his back and sides until, said Chiduke, “I could not sit, let alone lie down.

“Prison officers would assure me that it was their job to deal with people like me,” he told the court.

“They asked me why the CID guys did not just shoot me dead when I was apprehended.

“They intimidated me by saying that thieves like me did not deserve to live — not even in prison.”

Chiduke said he has endured horror in C Hall.

“I remember that my first meal was Sadza which was served on a bin lid with a little boiled spinach. In a normal situation 15 to 20 prisoners sleep in one cell but we were about 40 crammed up in that small room. I was not given blankets and had to share with others.

“You might think that I am exaggerating but the space I was allocated to sleep was about 30cm, measured by a ruler,” he said.

He said the following morning he was served with half cup of plain porridge and later bread crumbs for tea.

“The stale bread crumbs would be returns from well-wishing bakeries,” he said.

“Every time we aired our grievances prison officers just told us that the government didn’t have enough resources to cater for us.”

The ablution facilities at Chikurubi, according to Chiduke, were a disaster and were made worse by scarcity of water.

“Toilets are always about full with faecal matter and water was and is always a rare commodity. At one time I had severe abdominal pains and went to the hospital where I was given a prescription to give to my relatives because there is no medication there.

“I was told that the government could only provide pain killers.”

The notorious car-jacker is also implicated for causing a failed jail break at Chikurubi Maximum Prison that left five inmates dead.

He explained how prison officials then introduced a new form of punishment for anyone that complained about living conditions.

“We would be sent to a certain office called ‘yards’ where one is terribly assaulted under the feet by officers using a one-metre long baton stick of conveyer rubber belt.

“I was also victim to the said punishment and as a result I sustained permanent feet problems.”

MDC chief elections officer Morgan Komichi, who spent more than four months at Chikurubi Remand Prison after he was arrested for fraud and contravening sections of the Electoral Act, confirmed the situation there was dire.

“The institution is ailing and I cannot even begin to mention the living conditions. The food, lice-infested blankets and treatment is just something else. I wish something could be done urgently,” Komichi said.

“There is a serious shortage of uniforms at remand prison. There is no supply of uniforms and most rely on well-wishers who usually help out. Detainees actually borrow from each other when they are coming to court.”

He said there was high risk of diseases spreading.

“The prisons are tuberculosis (TB) prone. Blankets are old and never washed hence they harbour dust, flees and lice. The worst thing is that prisoners are not allowed to wash them. I was detained in winter and fully understand what it was like living there,” he said.

Former Judge President of the High Court of Zimbabwe, Justice Rita Makarau, expressed concern over the appalling conditions pre-trial detainees were being held under at  Harare Central Prison.

During her fact-finding visit, Justice Makarau met a number of pre-trial detainees, including at least 10 who had been held on remand for 10 years without trial.

She described the inmates’ plight as “embarrassing and disturbing” and stressed that the courts had “no excuse for this kind of treatment”.

Comments (22)

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RogerMPopp - 6 September 2015

Aiba aifunga mujere mutserendende usingazivi kugeza nevunye hwedhorofiya . Ndinoda kutenda nharirie dzaZimondi nokuranga nharadada chero akafa hatina basa naye anoziva ndiyani kana asina kuposhera vamwe kwamupfiga nehwe pachipinga chake chevunhubu . AnaKarimanzira aka Cold Storage , Chidumo , Masendeke vakaratidziwa zhira tsvene so ndinoti kana zvichita muratidzirei zhira tsvene inoinda kuMbudzi azorere . Ndokutendai Chose Nokugona Basa mapurisa edu

MukarangawekuMberengwa - 7 September 2015


ZVIROTO - 8 September 2015

prison is a punishment not a holiday resort for armed robbers ,rapists and other criminals. Siyai maconditions ariko iwayo

WAKE - 8 September 2015

dont forget you can be in for false accusations.

David Panganai - 8 September 2015

am out of prison struggling to make ends meet paying tax to the government for someone to rob me n go to prison where they would want to enjoy our tax money. hahahahahahahahahaha well done zps

citizen - 8 September 2015

Prisoners are human beings who prey on law abiding citizens, hence have to be quarantined from society. Such [ill] treatment must be amplified & publicised to deter would be criminals. Sometimes Ifeel sharia law is appropriate.

EL-DODO - 8 September 2015

Prison is supposed to be correctional services,wako mwana anogona kuenda even yourself for a stupid thing may be acting on your defence or slapping a child which will be abuse.

tobias - 8 September 2015

some people in prison are not criminals guys.

tobias - 8 September 2015

no human deserves to live as such after all prisons are correctional facillities not punishment facilities as some tend to thinl

reality nkomo - 8 September 2015

that isolation from society is enough correctional action. guyz, those extra appaling conditions are not at all necessary. my point being that jail time is meant to remove yo freedom of going about yo daily activities; that enough is punishment. no friends, no relatives, no plans fo th day: isnt that enough especially considering you will be caged for some years or so. pafungei hama. vangatogadzirisa maconditions and lengthen the period. hatina kuti vagadzira mahotel conditions coz some will perpetrate for that sole reason. thank you

thefarmar - 9 September 2015

Anyone can be in prison guys especially in this Zim we ar living in.....Some are in for no crimes at all..So i find it stupid for someone to be happy that someone is living in bad conditions..besides one way or the other we all have done something judging someone or wishing someone bad conditions is inhuman as well as inconsiderate..the Constitution of Zimbabwe demands that everyone is given the right to life and all basic needs including good health by wishing that someone lives without basic human needs we will be breaking the law...and no law is above the constitution

kwanai - 10 September 2015

Prisoners have a right to better conditions why giving him 30cm to sleep on?? Ari mwana wako akanganisa ungafare here?? and worse still he may come out an even hardened criminal and murder you

gakakab - 16 September 2015

kujeri hazvirevi kugarika. Aiwa. conditions should not be relaxed. zvikadaro vanhu vanoedza kusapara mhosva dzinoendesa kujeri kwacho. asi kuzorohwa nezvimwe is not right. nyaya ye over crowding is an issue isiri nyore kugadzira. jeri rakavakwa richinzi rinochengeta vanhu vakawanda zvakadii, ndine urombo vanhu vawanda kudarika vanokwana mujeri macho. kuvaka rimwe jeri kunoda mari, asi zvinhu zvakaoma. kune vanoti zviri kuitika zvakanaka ndinoti ngwarirai nekuti vanokwanisa kuzviwana vavemo rimwe zuva. kupinda mujeri hazvirevi kuti une mhosva yawapara nguva dzose. panoita mhosva yaunonzi wakapara iwe usina. pakadaro jeri unopinda, hazvishamise

Tafara - 16 September 2015

bt these laws are also imposed by human who mac mistakes

shekau - 21 September 2015

Only fools think that its only the guilty that go to jail, There is a lot of chances of error. False accusations can land any man in prison. Prison is meant to be a correctional services department and not a place to punish offenders.

Joshua Hondoma - 24 September 2015

the prisons are called correctional facilities which are meant to rehabilitate the criminal man into a better someone who will be able to fit in society cordially once more and unless there is not action by the government,there is a high risk of forging dangerous ex convicts due to this brutal and inhuman treatment

slow poison - 29 September 2015

ehe kujeri hakusikumba,mondi,makororo,vanobata chibharo ngavabviswe munevanhu kwavo , chikurubhi imaximum jeri rakakodzera tsikadzakaipa dzako,sakachimbonyatsofunga zvaunoda kuita muhupenyu uriko ukoko. haungaurayi kana kurepa woti sorry,, kwete.

L Chatikobo - 4 October 2015

Waiti kuhorodhi here? Hausati

greasemonkey - 23 October 2015

Gvt must do something bcoz to be a criminal does not mean u must not deserve the right to live

Lee Gororo - 31 October 2015

we know of coz vakapara mhosva asika kurarama inyasha vanhu vanobatwa nemweya yakaipa vopara mhosva vamukati vochibepura ko munhu atadza anoregererwa wani munguva yekusaziva ndapota chivabataiwo zvakanaka

hillary - 11 November 2015

mafunnies. kana bandit rekuAkerica richidya chiken slice chii chinkatadzisa banditi remuno?

bandit - 6 September 2016

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