HARARE - Starved prisoners at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison resorted to trapping rats for survival in the cells as the institution was failing to meet their dietary needs, the court heard yesterday.
This was said during the trial of incarcerated Independent End Time Message founder Robert Martin Gumbura and eight other Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison inmates, who are being charged for attempting to break from jail.
Gumbura, is jointly charged with 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, for attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances in relation to malicious damage to property and incitement to assault or resist a peace officer.
Yesterday, when Matambanadzo was cross-examining the State’s chief witness Claudius Mutizwa, he claimed that prisoners, tired of being served sadza and water turned to rats to improve their diet.
“The witness claimed that his evidence was confined to events that occurred in B hall, would he dispute it if I told him that prisoners in other cells were desperate for food to the extent of trapping rats within their cells,” asked Matambanadzo.
“Is the witness also aware that sadza was being served with water that was mixed with expired Royco Usavi Mix?”
However, Mutizwa, who is a serving prisoner, said there was never food shortage at the prison.
He told the court that the country was going through socio-economic hardships and Chikurubi was not an exception.
Matambanadzo, further claimed that property that is alleged to have been destroyed during the riot was actually vandalised by prison officers who wanted to strengthen their case against the accused persons.
The trial continues today before Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo.
Michael Reza prosecuted.