Prison inspection visit deferred again


The scheduled visit to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for an inspection in loco by regional magistrate Morgan Nemadire, prosecutor Michael Reza and the defence team for suspects charged with plotting to overthrow a legitimate government failed to materialise yet again and was postponed to April 26.

The long-awaited inspection of the prison cells was organised after six prisoners, who allegedly attempted a jailbreak last year, made an application for referral of their matter to the Supreme Court citing violation of their constitutional rights.

Albert Mugove Matapo, Silas Sarezi Shonhiwa, Phillip Chivhurunge, Ruperts Chimanga, Bigknows Wairesi and Lucky Mhungu alleged that the state was violating Section 15(1) and 18 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe that deals with protection against inhuman treatment.

Their lawyers Charles Warara and Gift Nyandoro made an application in terms of Section 24 of the Constitution but Reza opposed it.

But the visit to the prison holding cells did not materialise because, among other reasons, the renouncing of agency by Mhungu’s lawyer Nyandoro.

Prosecutor Reza tendered a letter to the magistrate from Nyandoro’s law firm confirming the latest development.

Reasons for the decision by Nyandoro were not advanced.

Besides the unavailability of Nyandoro, Reza also told the magistrate that the witness who was supposed to accompany the judicial officers on a tour of the prison had not been advised.

National prosecutor (prison services) Trymore Nyaradzai Paradzai is expected to lead the judicial officials around the prison complex, in particular the section which the prisoners claim conditions are unfit for human habitation.

Warara said he also wanted the Supreme Court to determine whether it was constitutional for any accused person to appear in court wearing labelled clothes for trial while shackled in leg-irons.

Warara said Matapo had been subjected to conditions akin to punishment without trial since his arrest four years ago.

He said Matapo and his colleagues were allowed to come out of their cells for only 30 minutes spending 23 and half hours locked in cells measuring 4,5 by 1,5 metres.

The defence team also complained the prison cells where their clients were being kept were condemned by the Supreme Court but were being used specifically to accommodate their clients.