JAILED RMG Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura, who is serving an 40-year effective jail term for rape, yesterday filed a complaint protesting his placement in solitary confinement.
BY TINASHE SIBANDA/NQOBILE NKIWANE
Gumbura alongside eight other inmates accused of masterminding a failed jailbreak from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison accuse prison authorities of violating their basic human rights after they were placed in solitary confinement two months ago.
Through lawyer David Hofisi, Gumbura said his confinement at the “notorious FB1” prison cells had dehumanised him.
“We wish to bring to the court’s attention the fact that they are now in solitary confinement of which they were moved to FB1 cells all on various dates and because of that they are currently being denied access to sanitary material,” Hofisi said.
The lawyer said the sanitary material included toothbrushes, soap and toilet paper. He said his clients were not being permitted to wear shoes, slippers or any other footwear.
Hofisi said they were only allowed access to natural light for 15 minutes each day.
He said although a court order for his clients to get blankets and not be assaulted had been respected, the new conditions had introduced a harsh tone to their prison life.
“It’s dehumanising and degrading. The State should explain why the accused, that still enjoy presumption of innocence, are being punished this way,” Hofisi said.
He said some of the inmates were being denied food from outside the prison on public holidays adding that continued isolation was causing psychological harm and mental suffering.
Prosecutor Michael Reza tried to defend the placement of the prisoners in solitary confinement.
“Prison authorities have travelled a long road and they know the types of prisoners that are put in FB1 cells,” he said.
“When one is arrested, he retains all his rights except the one to freedom and in this case the State and courts are being asked to interfere with another arm of the government.”
However, magistrate Tendai Mahwe said the prisoners were still entitled to their human rights and should be supplied with basic sanitation.
He said the court would leave to prison authorities to decide which cell a prisoner is detained in.