A NewsDay crew was Wednesday barred from covering an arts festival inside Khami Prison with prison officials insisting they produce an invitation letter to the event.
The two journalists — Khulani Nkabinde and photographer Chrispen Tabvura — were made to wait at the prison complex’s car park for more than an hour as prison officials went inside to “consult” their superiors, but never returned.
Journalists from the State media — Chronicle and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation — were allowed to cover the event without hassles.
On Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Prison Service spokesperson refused to talk about the event with NewsDay, urging the journalists to speak to officials from Amakhosi Theatre Arts, organisers of the festival.
“After explaining that we had spoken to the organisers who had even indicated we could come and attend the event, a female prison warder, only identified as Ndlovu, asked that we wait at the car park while she made inquiries,” said Nkabinde.
“She went away for more than 30 minutes while behind the thick and huge security walls at the remand prison complex where the show was being held, we could hear arts groups singing and people cheering them on.
“After another 30 minutes of waiting, two men in plain clothes emerged and introduced themselves as prison officials and asked for our names and where we worked. After giving them all the relevant information and telling them that we had been cleared at two security gates already, they said they would be back as they wanted to find out from their bosses if they could let us in.
“Following another 20 minutes of waiting and with no one in sight, we decided to leave,” Nkabinde said.