The seven men who were released last week after spending four years at Chikurubi Maximum Prison on treason charges for allegedly plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe through a coup say they are now wallowing in poverty and face huge legal bills after the protracted trial.
The case against the men is not over, but they have been released because the State has failed to bring them to trial within stipulated time.
Their lawyer, Charles Warara says the State case was too weak to sustain and evidence that the men were capable, materially or intellectually, to stage a coup was non-existent.
One of the seven men, Pattison Mupfure told NewsDay this week that all of them, except one who was a university student, had been gainfully employed, but lost their jobs as they languished in remand prison.
The seven are Albert Matapo, Oncemore Mudzurahowa, Emmanuel Marara, Shingirai Mutemachani, Nyasha Zivhuku, Rangarirai Mazivofa and Mupfure.
“We do not even know which organisations can help us to reintegrate into society after being incarcerated unfairly for four years.
“We have now run up a very huge bill with Charles Warara, the lawyer who has been representing us,” said Mupfure. He added that their children had since dropped out of school because no one could pay their fees.
He said it would be difficult for the seven to come to terms with their incarceration as prison life was not easy, with poor diet, torn prison garb and separation from their families.
Mapfure maintains that they were innocent and their imprisonment was unjustified.
“We feel we were unjustly treated and unlawfully tortured by the Central Intelligence Organisation and military intelligence members who abducted us at Gestawalt Travel Centre in Harare in May 2007,” said Mupfure.
“Even after High Court judges Justice Joseph Musakwa and Justice Yunus Omerjee admitted that we had been unlawfully detained and they granted us freedom, the prison authorities continued to detain us unlawfully for a further one week, resulting in our wives spending days at the prison gates waiting for us to be freed so that they could provide us with bus fare and clothes,” he said.