THE late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s adopted son, Abdallha Moussa Mone Yousuf Mouammare Aboutminiyare Al Gaddafi, who is detained at Harare Remand Prison as an illegal immigrant, was at one time deported, but he refused to disembark from the connecting flight in Ethiopia to take him back to his country.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This was revealed by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi when he appeared before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights chaired by Harare Metropolitan Senator Oliver Mandishona Chidawu (Zanu PF) to speak about prison conditions and refugees.
Gaddafi fled Libya in 2011 and sought refuge in Zimbabwe in April 2014, and since then he has been incarcerated in remand prison and wants asylum in Zimbabwe.
“In certain instances, refugees and illegal immigrants refuse to be deported, an example is that of Gaddafi who, when he came to Zimbabwe, was deported through Ethiopia.
But when he got there, he refused to go on a connecting flight to Libya and had to be brought back to Zimbabwe,” Ziyambi said.
Later, the minister told journalists: “He ran away from Libya because he says they were going to persecute him, but we could not offer him asylum instantly because his identity could not be verified since he says he is Gaddafi’s adopted son.
“He has made a court application challenging his continued detention in Zimbabwe’s prisons because he is a prohibited immigrant, but he wants to seek refugee status in Zimbabwe. We now await the court determination. Initially, his identity could not be ascertained and it was not prudent to grant an unidentified person asylum.”
Ziyambi said currently there were 190 prohibited immigrants in the country awaiting deportation. He said preferably they were not supposed to be housed in prisons, but Zimbabwe had no other safe facilities to house them as they awaited deportation.
“These are not refugees, they are prohibited immigrants awaiting deportation and we do not have anywhere to place them except in prisons. We have no budget for their upkeep. We even resorted to say that their relatives can pay for their flights back, but some of them do not even want to go back,” the minister said.
Harare Metropolitan Senator Kerina Gweshe (MDC Alliance) then asked the minister to explain plans to improve facilities at Chikurubi where she said there was only one cell with toilets, resulting in prisoners using empty plastic bags to relieve themselves. Gweshe claimed that there was hunger in prisons, resulting in prisoners eating rats because of lack of a meat diet.
Midlands Senator Tsitsi Muzenda (Zanu PF) also claimed that juvenile prisoners were mixed with older hardcore criminals.
Ziyambi said nowadays prison diet had improved such that prisoners were now eating meat. He said the problem was that prison cold rooms where meat should be stored were broken down, resulting in the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service buying meat in advance and storing it at butcheries, who later reneged and demanded more money as prices of meat increased.
He admitted that there was a serious problem of toilets since prison infrastructure was constructed during the colonial era in the 1940s, adding that government was considering selling prisons to land developers so that new open prisons are built in Marondera and Chikurubi.
“Before the old prisons are destroyed, we want new ones to be ready,” Ziyambi said.