Court urged to reject Chikurubi inmates’ application

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Gumbura is led by a prison officer and one of his lawyers

The Harare Magistrates’ Court has been urged to dismiss an application by eight inmates who allegedly attempted a jailbreak at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison to have their matter referred to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

BY COURT REPORTER

The inmates are seeking to have their matter heard at the ConCourt claiming that their rights were impinged upon when prison officers allegedly tortured them, denied them medication and forced them to eat human excreta as punishment for attempting a jailbreak on March 13.

In their application, the eight suspects — Lucky Matambanadzo (39), Blessing Chauke (25), Lucky Mhungu (38), Taurai Dodzo (47), Thomas Chacha (37), Thulani Chizema (32), Jacob Sibanda (28) and Elijah Vhumbunu (38) — claimed that they soiled their clothes after being tortured and were forced to eat the excreta.

Through their lawyer, David Hofisi, the suspects said they were seeking permanent stay of their trial due to the torture.

Hofisi said his clients’ right to a fair trial had been affected by the alleged torture. He said the eight were tortured to confess to information relating to the alleged jailbreak. Their alleged accomplice, Robert Martin Gumbura, who was cited as the alleged brains behind the foiled jailbreak, was not included in the application. Prosecutor Michael Reza urged the court to dismiss the application saying the inmates were just trying to divert attention from their crime.

“It is pertinent to note the contradictions by applicants where they say they were assaulted and denied medical attention yet they state in the same affidavits that they were taken to hospital and some had plaster of paris applied on them,” Reza argued.

Reza said Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services officials should be commended for exercising extreme restraint after being provoked by the riotous inmates. He said the prisoners caused the commotion in a bid to escape from lawful custody.

The number of fatalities could have been higher had prison wardens used brute force to contain the situation, Reza added.

“Some prisoners, including the applicants, were unavoidably injured, but all their fundamental rights were respected except their right to freedom of movement,” he said.

A ruling on the application is expected on Friday.

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