via One meal a day for prisoners January 31, 2014 By Paidamoyo Muzulu NewsDay
THE three MDC-T activists released on bail on Wednesday said they would want to thank God that they came out alive after 33 months in remand at Chikurubi Maximum Prison where food shortages, overcrowding and spread of communicable diseases are prevalent.
The trio — Last Maengahama, Tungamirai Madzokere and Yvonne Musarurwa — are part of the 29 MDC-T Glen View activists arrested on charges of killing Police Inspector Petros Mutedza during public disturbances in the suburb in May 2011.
The activists told a Press briefing at MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Highlands home that there was scant clothing, food, and water at Chikurubi where they were treated as convicts and were housed together with hardcore criminals.
Musarurwa said: “People are dying every day of hunger in custody and in our section we were allowed to go outside only for 30 minutes each day.”
Maengahama added that the jail conditions were deteriorating in sync with the economy and this was reflected in food shortages.
“This week the prison authorities started giving inmates only a single meal a day,” Maengahama added.
The three said their lowest point during their incarceration was when their colleague Rebecca Mafukeni died in custody and they had no opportunity to attend her funeral after being in prison together for over a year.
While being thankful of the party’s support the three said at times they felt lonely and abandoned by the party, relatives and friends.
“I received very few visitors during my incarceration at Chikurubi. Some friends came once in a blue moon and the only exception was my wife who came nearly every day during the entire 33 months period,” Maengahama said. “I will write a memoir about my prison experiences soon after the case is completed.”
Musarurwa said her time in prison afforded her to reflect and know who truly cared about her.
“I realised who my true friends were during my time in prison as very few came and supported me. I also used the time to reconnect with God and grow spiritually,” she said.
Madzokere, a Harare City councillor elected in absentia in the July 31 harmonised polls, said he managed to complete a diploma while in prison.
“I managed to start and complete a Diploma in Public Relations during my stay in custody,” Madzokere said.
Tsvangirai described their incarceration as a personal endurance test. “Prison is not the four walls, but they want to break your spirit. I am glad that you are still determined to fight and achieve change,” he said.