A prison officer at Bulawayo Prison Camp allegedly assisted a remand prisoner to escape from the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court after he gave him civilian clothes in return for the settlement of a $120 debt he reportedly owed the suspect.
Thulani Mhlanga, whose rank was not given, appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa yesterday facing charges of contravening Section 185 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which forbids prison officers from assisting prisoners escape from lawful custody.
He was remanded out of custody to November 9 on $20 bail.
Mhlanga through his lawyer, Simbarashe Chivaura, told the court he was assaulted while in police custody and showed the magistrate bruises on his wrists and legs. Malvern Nzombe, for the State, told the court on October 20, Mhlanga was at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court where he was guarding remand prisoners appearing in various court cases.
Among the prisoners was Shepherd Tauya Maguwu, who was facing charges of unlawful entry.The court heard Mhlanga had previously borrowed $120 from Maguwu.
When the courts adjourned for lunch, Mhlanga allegedly did not lock up Maguwu in the holding cells as per procedure.
Maguwu had already appeared in court and was remanded in custody to November 3.
Instead, Mhlanga allegedly gave Maguwu a T-shirt and a pair of trousers which he had brought along. Maguwu immediately removed his prison garb and dressed in civilian clothes and bolted out through the dock in one of the courtrooms.
Police launched a manhunt, leading to Maguwu’s arrest a few hours later.
Maguwu spilled the beans, leading to the prison warder’s arrest.