|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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Enough is Enough
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY
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30 May 2004
Archaeologists often say that the most telling discoveries about the past are made in sifting through the contents of the rubbish bins of ancient civilizations. With a macabre twist, the same might be said of what Zimbabwe’s mortuaries reveal today - of the sad state of society, and more particularly of the country’s prisons.
Take the Mpilo mortuary in Bulawayo for example. Those unfortunate enough to have cause to visit the place report that bodies are piled up like so much firewood. The refrigeration system having failed some time ago there is no alternative, and the resulting stench is appalling. A recent visitor to the mortuary counted in excess of fifteen bodies piled up on the floor. Judging by the identical grey blankets in which they were wrapped they were all from the prisons. A few bodies were not in fact covered at all. They lay stark naked, without a shred of dignity or decency in death. A small boy, a green bomber graduate, now working as a mortuary attendant, explained that the prisons were giving them a real problem in the number of bodies delivered which were unclaimed.
The same picture is readily confirmed by a visit to the nearby Luveve cemetery. Attendants there report that many bodies from the prisons are given a pauper’s funeral and buried together in mass graves.
Follow the trail of death back from cemetery and mortuary to the prison house, and the cause of this distressing situation becomes plain to see. A senior officer at Khami Prison confirmed recently that on average 15 prisoners are dying each week of Tuberculosis (T.B). March was a particularly bad month in which the prison recorded 130 deaths. T.B. is a contagious disease to which the weak or malnourished are particularly prone. At certain stages of the disease patients should be isolated from others. In Khami Prison however such is the congestion and over-crowding of facilities that infected patients mix freely with others, creating a situation in which the disease can spread like wildfire. To make matters even worse the prison is short of the drugs required to treat T.B. and does not have the adequate food supplies that should be given to those receiving the drugs. All things considered the appallingly high mortality rate at the prison should not occasion any surprise.
Nor is this the full extent of the serious health hazards faced at Zimbabwe’s prisons today. The prison officer at Khami who spoke of the menace of T.B. also revealed that homosexual rape was a huge problem. If all the cases were prosecuted, he said, the whole prison would have to be closed down.
Such is life – and death - in the hell hole of a Zimbabwean prison in the year 2004.
Some of the accused men being taken to a makeshift court within the prison complex two weeks ago
Last updated: 05/04/2004 06:13:06 Last updated: 05/04/2004 04:14:10
PROSECUTORS told a Zimbabwe court on Monday that 70 suspected mercenaries charged with plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea were planning to break out of jail and would from now on be held in leg irons.
State prosecutor Lawrence Phiri said information was
received about a plan to airlift the men from Chikurubi Maximum Security prison
on the outskirts of Harare where the group have been held since their arrest on
The 70 men were detained at Harare International Airport almost two months ago when their Boeing 727 stopped to refuel and pick up military equipment.
The Zimbabwean authorities claim they were on their way to join 15 suspected mercenaries arrested in Equatorial Guinea and charged with plotting to overthrow the government of the oil-rich central African nation.
But the 70, most of whom are from South Africa, have said they were on their way to the Democratic Republic of Congo to work as security guards at a diamond mine.
The court on Monday heard details of the alleged plan but journalists were barred from attending the hearing.
"The information was that there were plans to spring the prisoners out of Chikurubi," Phiri told the court in open session.
Phiri said the order to clamp the men back in leg irons came on Friday morning.
"The authorities saw it fit that until further notice the prisoners will be kept in leg irons," he said.
Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange protested the move, saying "I'm certainly not prepared to have the accused tried in leg irons".
"It is not free and fair. I'm going to move that the
prison officials be held in contempt of court," Samkange said.
He said the court order allowing them to appear in court without shackles was being "flagrantly disobeyed turning this place into a circus". AFP