MDC Inmates relive 9 months in hell

February 22, 2012 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

One of the lawyers representing the 29 MDC members who are facing false

charges of murdering a police officer in Glen View, Harare last May has
described the release on bail of seven of the accused on Friday as “A long
walk and protracted battle.”

The seven were released yesterday after being granted bail at the Supreme
Court by Deputy Justice Luke Malaba. For nine months, Glen View councillor,
Tungamirai Madzokera, Lazarus and Stanford Maengahama, Stanford Mangwiro,
Phineas Nhatarikwa,Rebecca Mafikeni and Yvonne Musarurwa were locked up in
remand prison as they were denied bail several times at the High Court as
the State said they were a flight risk.

During their arrests most of the accused were severely assaulted by the
police while in custody. The police officers who have been fingered in the
assaults are; Chrispen Makedenge, the Officer Commanding Harare Law and
Order Section, Chief Detective Inspector Ntini, Detective Inspector Dowa,
Dectective Inspector Murira from Harare Central Police Station, one Justin,
Makombe, and one nicknamed Harare from the condemned Matapi Police Station
in Mbare.

However, the conditions were very harsh for the two female inmates,
Musarurwa, 25, and Mafikeni, 27 who were at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. After
being denied bail at the High Court, the two were on June 29 removed from
the female section of Chikurubi Maximum Prison to the male section where
convicted prisoners stay.

“The conditions were harsh and terrible we were staying in cells that had
raw sewage passing through,” said Mafikeni.

“We were allowed only 20 minutes a day to do laundry, bathing and
exercises. The conditions were just inhumane. We had to use bare hands to
remove the sewage from our cells as the prison warders could not provide
gloves for them,” added Musarurwa. “If we did not do this we could not eat
or even stay in the cells as they had a terrible stench,” she said.

The cells were constructed during the Rhodesian era and nothing has been
done to improve on them. During the routine remand at the Harare
Magistrates’ Courts in January this year, the magistrate ordered the State
to urgently investigate the inhumane and degrading conditions that the
seven MDC activists were living under at the Harare Remand and Chikurubi
Maximum prisons.

This was after one of their lawyers, Charles Kwaramba had successfully
petitioned the court over the inhumane living conditions of the inmates. It
was revealed during the remand hearing that Councillor Madzokere was in
December last year severely assaulted by a prison guard only identified as
Dune and needed urgent prison medical attention but had not received any
treatment until his release on Monday in violation of the Prison Act.

During the assault of the councillor, prison guard Dune threw him three
times against the wall exacerbating injuries to his right hand which the
police broke during his arrest in May Last year. After filing of the
complaints by kwaramba in January, the magistrate immediately ordered the
State to investigate the claims. According to Musarurwa and Mafikeni the
conditions became a bit better.

“We were then allowed to spend most of the time outside the cells although
at  first they did not allow the two of us to talk to each other but we
resisted this,” said Mafikeni.

The two said their removal from the female section to the male section
where convicted hardcore criminals stay was nothing but political. “The
Officer in Charge of the complex, Imelda Chifodya told us that we had to
move since as MDC activists we would influence other inmates to join the
MDC,” said Musarurwa.

“However, while in custody, we understood that as an MDC member the State
security agents will always come after you even when you haven’t done
anything wrong and this gave us strength. Our arrests were nothing but
signs of a desperate Zanu PF regime which knows that real change is around
the corner,” she said.

The State has set 12 March will be the trial date. But for the two
activists they are ready for the day. “We are not afraid. We want the
justice to be delivered. We know we are innocent. As you know that;
‘justice delayed is justice denied,” they said.

The two women were shocked at how the police have top of the range vehicles
and manpower at their disposal to arrest MDC members but fail to carry out
normal police duties citing lack of vehicles. “On our arrest, the police
had at their disposal scores of vehicles as they went around Harare
arresting MDC members.

However, we were shocked to hear while we were in remand prison that they
did not have a single vehicle or police officer to get to Beatrice in time
when General Solomon Mujuru died in an inferno,” said Musarurwa.

The two MDC activists called for an urgent intervention in the living
conditions of inmates at Chikurubi.“For the women, they have no food, their
children are surviving on a single meal of porridge a day while the women
have no sanitary pads,” said Mafikeni.

The story of the assaults was the same for the other male inmates.
Mangwiro, 31, had two front teeth removed after he was assaulted by police
officers from Glen Norah Police Station who arrested him at his workplace
in Glen View.

“Besides losing my teeth, my sight is now bad. I managed to convince the
prison authorities to take me to Parirenyatwa Hospital last month. However,
at the hospital the doctors said I should pay US$5 which I did not have as
I was in prison,” he said.

For Lazarus Maengahama, 42, the nine month incarceration were a nightmare
as he had no idea what was going on since he had returned home to see his
family from his workplace outside Zimbabwe.

Nhatarikwa, 46, said he was assaulted with his hands in cuffs while in
police custody so much that for the next four days he was urinating blood
after his testicles had been smashed.

“I didn’t get proper treatment for my condition in prison,” said Nhatarikwa.

Meanwhile, three other MDC activists are still in remand prison facing the
same charges. They are the MDC National Youth Assembly chairperson, Solomon
Madzore, Jefias Moyo and Paul Rukanda.

On Monday, Madzore filed a notice of appeal against the refusal to grant
him bail by the High Court Judge, Justice Hlekani Mwayera.

In his application, which was granted after Justice Mwayera granted them
leave to appeal, Madzore argued that the judge had erred in vetoing the
youth leader’s first bail bid last year. “The court-a-quo grossly
misdirected itself by making findings which were not supported by the facts
and evidence placed before the court,” reads part of the application.

MDC Information & Publicity Department
Harvest House
44 Nelson Mandela Ave
Tel: 00263 4 770 708


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