VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday told Parliament that RGM End Time Message church leader Robert Martin Gumbura, who is serving a 40-year jail term for rape, was among more than 100 inmates who planned the violent food riots that broke out at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison last Friday.
Senior Parliamentary REPORTER
The violence left five prisoners dead and several wardens injured as more than 900 inmates protested a poor diet served at the prison.
Mnangagwa made the remarks after Zengeza West MP Simon Chidhakwa demanded to know how the government had responded to the riots.
“Chikurubi houses the most dangerous criminals in the country — robbers, rapists, infidels serving 45 years, 60 years, 70 years, and a group of them — about 100 had conspired to break away from prison,” Mnangagwa said.
“Surprisingly Gumbura was chairing that conspiracy (meeting) at the compound area, where meals are served and the mutiny was over the issue of there being no meat in their relish.”
Mnangagwa said prisoners broke some water pipes and kitchen furniture while others picked up bricks, which they used to attack prison officers, resulting in eight officers being injured.
He added that while other inmates were rioting, organisers were busy climbing prison walls trying to escape and that resulted in the prison guards opening gunfire.
Mnangagwa claimed the organisers of the demonstrations had misled other prisoners that firearms carried by the wardens were not loaded and were harmless.
“One inmate was shot and he died, they began to retreat and some got wounded in the process and in total five prisoners have died,” he said.
“We have enhanced security at Chikurubi Prison and have put the troublesome prisoners in the penal section.
“Repairs are being made to the damaged roof.
“Two prisoners had climbed the roof to escape and were shot at.”
Harare West MP Jessie Majome quizzed Mnangagwa to explain what the government had done to improve prisoners’ diet and why the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services had falsely told journalists that the five prisoners had died as a result of a stampede.
“I want to believe the report I was given by my officials was the authentic report and not the one in the newspapers,” Mnangagwa said.
“Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) has since donated food, including cooking oil confiscated at border posts.
“We have a few cattle at prisons and about 18 000 prisoners, and just imagine how many cattle we would kill to give them meat.
“Besides, the prescribed diet at prisons is not meat everyday.
“We do not have the pleasure to entertain them as if they are in a hotel. We should make sure they realise they are in prison.”
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has blasted Treasury of failing to adequately fund ZPCS. In a statement yesterday, ZHRC chairperson Elaso Mugwadi said:
“The government of Zimbabwe is called upon to adhere to the constitutional, as well as the international obligations that Zimbabwe is party to, such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which calls upon the State to provide an acceptable standard when it comes to the welfare of inmates including their food, bedding, clothing and medical services, among others.”