HomeNews1 dies in Chikurubi riot

1 dies in Chikurubi riot

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There was one confirmed death of an inmate at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison yesterday following reports of gunfights as prisoners rioted over poor food and ill-treatment.

BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA/OBEY MANAYITI

The Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS) said eight other inmates and three guards were injured.

Several ambulances, anti-riot police and soldiers in vehicles were seen rushing to Chikurubi where initial reports had indicated that up to six inmates had been shot dead.

A NewsDay crew stationed at the entrance of Chikurubi last night saw four fire tenders, two police water cannons and other police vehicles coming out of the correctional facility.

ZPCS spokesperson Elizabeth Banda said the riots started in the afternoon when the inmates refused to have sadza with vegetables for lunch.

“The stampede started when some of the prisoners refused to have vegetables for their relish, but we cannot ascertain what exactly they wanted and who was refusing to have v
egetables,” said Banda.
She said no prisoners managed to escape.
But sources insisted some inmates had died while a few others escaped.

They said for a month now, ZPCS has been feeding the prisoners with sadza and soup only.

The sources last night said prison guards had a long stand-off with inmates, who went on the rampage and disarmed guards, with five of them reportedly escaping from the maximum security prison.

According to an official who was part of the team called to help quell the riot, a long gunbattle took place at the maximum security facility with numerous reinforcements being called in.

“Prisoners have been complaining about the quality of food for a long time, but their concerns were not being addressed. Today (yesterday) at around lunch they then demonstrated and this is when the chaos started,” said a prison official who is not allowed to speak to the media.

The prisoners allegedly burnt office furniture and grounds at the sprawling facility, while others climbed on tower lights daring guards to shoot them dead. There were reports two weeks ago about a hunger strike that inmates had embarked on citing poor meals.

Another source yesterday said inmates that participated in the hunger strike were victimised and locked in solitary confinement.
“I am told after the hunger strike, the boys were put on lock-in whereby they were restricted to their cells day and night.

Individuals were victimised. I am not sure if the lock-in is over yet, but what I am certain about is there is no food and inmates are dying daily,” said the source.

Another official said an almost similar riot took place on February 15 when inmates complained of being fed plain sadza with virtually no relish. The source said the issue was swept under the carpet.

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