Chikurubi Maximum Prison food riot: Inmates apply for referral to constitutional court.

HARARE magistrate, Milton Serima, will on June 5 hand down his ruling on eight prisoners accused of masterminding the unprecedented food riots at Chikurubi Maximum Prison that left five dead on March 13.

The court heard on Monday that the eight will on April 13 make an application for referral to Constitutional Court through Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights.

The state will respond on April 29.

The nine have since applied for refusal of further remand saying they have faced harrowing physical and emotional abuse and death at the hands of the country’s prison wardens since rioting on March 13.
Chikurubi Maximum Prison food riot: Inmates apply for referral to constitutional court.
According to the prisoners, ever since the food riots on March 13, they have been denied health care, food, and spent the whole day stark naked.

The inmates, who include Robert Martin Gumbura, 59, who is serving 30 years, Blessing Chiduke, 25, Luckmore Matambanadzo, 39, Luck Mhungu, 38, Taurai Dodzo, 47, Thomas Chacha, 37, Thulani Chizema, 32, Jacob Sibanda, 28, and Elijah Vhumbunu, 38, are being charged with attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances in relation to malicious damage to property and incitement to assault or resist a peace officer.

Gumbura is however not being represented in this application after his lawyer, Tapson Dzvetero, argued that the allegations did not disclose an offence at law.

Accusations are that on February 13 this year, Gumbura told inmates in B hall that their rights were being trampled on by the State, which was serving them substandard food.

The State claims that Gumbura told other prisoners that they were foolish not to take matters into their hands through protests.

Gumbura allegedly told inmates to protest for better quality food by singing throughout the night and the message was passed to inmates in C and D halls.

During that night, they sang until dawn, banging on cell iron bars.

The State further alleges that on March 13 Chiduke, Matambanadzo, Mhungu, Dodzo, Chacha and Chizema advised inmates in C hall to protest by rejecting food.

At the same time, Jacob Sibanda and three other inmates who are now deceased were addressing inmates in D hall to also protest.

Around 9am, porridge was served but inmates refused to eat because it had no sugar and demanded to see the prison’s chief superintendent.

Towards lunch time Chiduke, Matambanadzo, Mhungu, Dodzo, Chacha and Chizema demanded to see the officer-in-charge.

The officer-in-charge sent his subordinate, one Dumbura, who was told by the prisoners that they could not eat their food before pushing out containers that had been brought for lunch.

The court heard that just before the food was served, the now-deceased Titus Mandikoza went on top of the roof through a hole that had already been created and started shouting that prisoners were not supposed to eat the food.

At that moment, Vhumbunu and Sibanda threw the food at the prison officer and violence subsequently erupted.

Inmates in C hall started breaking water pipes, sinks, asbestos, window panes, destroying property valued at $450,000.

Efforts by one assistant commissioner Dhenya and other prison officers to calm the violence were in vain as the riotous prisoners charged towards prison officers, the State alleges.

Subsequently, the ZRP Support Unit was called in and fired shots at some of the accused persons who were on the rooftop.

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