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CHIKURUBI Maximum Prison officials told a Harare court Tuesday that toiletries were an unaffordable luxury for inmates who should be content to just get food, for the moment.

Chief prison officer, Desire Mutsindiri, was responding to allegations that the prison services disobeyed a court order issued two weeks.

The order compelled the service to provide toilet paper, tooth paste, tooth brushes, bath soap, towels and slippers to eight convicts charged with inciting food riots which left five inmates dead in February.

Mutsindiri told magistrate Tendai Mahwe that financial constraints made it impossible to comply with the court order.

“I dispute that we disobeyed the court order but the fact is the prisons is currently not in a position to provide such needs except food.

“Their relatives can buy such things and we will not turn them away because we know their requirements are a basic necessity,” he said.

The eight inmates include 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.

They have since made an application for the case to be heard before the Constitutional Court through Zimbabwe Lawyers of Human Rights (ZLHR).

The convicts, together with Robert Martin Gumbura, 59, who is serving 30 years for rape, are being charged with attempting to escape from lawful custody among a host of other offences.

Their lawyer, David Hofisi, demanded to know what happened to their belongings which they used before the food riot.

Responding, Mutsindiri said most of the effects were burnt during the commotion at Chikurubi.

“Some belongings of the inmates are kept in plastic bags and in buckets,” he explained.

“There was too much commotion on the day in question and the inmates threw the items in blazing fire. Some things got mixed up so it is difficult to retrieve them.”

Gumbura’s lawyer, Tapson Dzvetero said his client has access to sanitary items and was excused from the trial. He is due to appear in court on June 5.

Serima will deliver his ruling on the current allegations Tuesday.

Source : New Zimbabwe