Chikurubi riot: MDC-T demands inquiry on Justice Minister’s role

THERE are fears of more casualties at Chikurubi Maximum Prison as inmates on life sentences are reportedly targeting the ring leaders of last week’s violent protest.

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mnangagwa

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The opposition MDC-T party has also demanded an inquiry into the unrest.

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“The unfortunate incident that took place at Chikurubi last Friday is clearly symptomatic of a failed state.

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“Any government that is unable to feed its prisoners is not fit to govern,” said MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu in a statement.

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Up to 900 prisoners rioted over poor food at the facility last Friday. The inmates set fire to buildings and engaged in clashes with prison officers which left 20 of them injured.

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Soldiers, mounted police and the fire services were called to put down the riot which, officials say, left three prisoners dead.

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However, there are fears of more fatalities due to recriminations between the prisoners with those serving long sentences said to be furious with the protest leaders.

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The lifers are said to be angry that the riot will result in authorities imposing a tougher regime at the facility.

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“What is happening is that inmates serving life sentences at the prison are beating up those who caused the revolt,” said an official who refused to be named for professional reasons.

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“Last night a prisoner by the name Titus who was serving a 40 year jail term was beaten to death by fellow inmates.

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“Titus was identified as one of the leaders of the protest and a lot more have been identified and their lives are in danger.

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“What we have suggested is that those accused by fellow inmates of plotting the protest should be separated from other inmates. They have been allocated individual cells so that they do not mix up with others.”

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He added: “We have for example inmates serving a 100 year jail sentences.

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Commission of Inquiry

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“These are the prisoners who are complaining that, because of the protest, their lives would be made difficult by prison officials who have since declared war on all of the prisoners.”

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Meanwhile the MDC-T demanded the resignation of the Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS), Retired Major – General Paradzai Zimondi.

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“Under this man’s watch, the conditions at all the country’s correctional facilities have steadily declined over the years,” said party spokesman Obert Gutu.

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“Prison farms are terribly underutilised and mismanaged and rampant corruption continues to afflict the entire administration of the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS).”

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“The opposition party also called for an official inquiry into Friday’s riot as well as the general state of the country’s correctional services,” said party spokesman Obert Gutu.

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“Prisoners might have committed criminal offences, some of which are quite heinous, but they still have a Constitutional right not to be treated in a cruel and degrading manner.

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“Denial of adequate food provisions to our prisoners is tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

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He added: “The MDC calls for the immediate setting up of a Commission of Inquiry to look into conditions in the country’s 46 correctional facilities in general and the Chikurubi Maximum Security prison complex food riot.

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The Commission of Inquiry must be headed by a judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court. The country is at the crossroads. We cannot fold our arms and pretend that everything is in order.”

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The Chikurubi riot was yet another sign that the Zanu PF-led government has failed, Gutu added.

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“The Zanu PF regime has totally lost the plot. The regime continues to bury its head in the sand and pretend that everything in the country is fine and working.

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“But) to the contrary, the whole State apparatus has virtually collapsed as the two antagonistic factions in the beleaguered political party, Zanu PF, continue to fight for power and control.

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“The Gamatox and the Weevils factions are at each other’s throat. Things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold.”