BY SILAS NKALA
MDC national chairperson Thabitha Khumalo has claimed that Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) officials on Saturday denied her and party members permission to visit colleagues detained at Mlondolozi Remand Prison outside Bulawayo.
Khumalo said they were advised to apply for permission through the prisons provincial offices at Mhlahlandlela in Bulawayo.
She said 12 members of the opposition party were denied access to party members remanded at the Mlondolozi Remand Prison on allegations of violence during last month’s protests against fuel price hikes that turned violent.
And on Saturday, accompanied by other party members, Khumalo visited the remand prison with food for the detained members, but was again denied access.
“We went to Mlondolozi to see our comrades who are detained. I went with relatives and colleagues. The prison guards told me that I am not the inmates’ relative,” Khumalo said.
“I told them that I am a Member of Parliament and a leader of the MDC House in Parliament. I was voted to represent the voiceless and those in custody were some of the people I represent. They then said since I am not a relative, I have to apply through Mhlahlandlela government offices, indicating that it was possible that I may poison the inmates.”
She said the prison guards told her their hands were tied and so could not let her see the inmates or leave the food and sanitary wear she had brought them, but advised her to follow due process.
“I asked them that even if they do not allow me to see the inmates, can’t they take the food and give them to the inmates, but they said what if the food is poisoned,” Khumalo said.
“I had to go back with all that I intended to give them. Honestly speaking, I was voted by Zimbabweans to represent those who are voiceless. I am a public figure and if I had given the inmates poisoned food, they would easily know that and why would I want to kill them in the first place?”
In most cases, people bringing food are supposed to first “taste” it before handing it over to inmates.
Khumalo said the behaviour by warders and wardens was unfair not only to her, but to the inmates, who deserve good attention from volunteer care givers.
ZPCS Bulawayo spokesperson Garainashe Moyo yesterday said he would respond by email.
At the time of going to print last night, he had not yet responded.