Home » Governance » Chikurubi Riot Planned Outside to Embarrass Mugabe, Says Official

THE failed attempt by disgraced pastor Martin Gumbura and seven others to break from Chikurubi prison was politically motivated and aimed at embarrassing President Robert Mugabe who was in Asia at that time, prison authorities have claimed.

Appearing before the parliamentary committee on Defence and Security, Aggreys Machingauta, Deputy Commissioner-General for prisons, said the foiled jail break was plotted outside the prison with the aim of embarrassing Mugabe who was in Japan attending a United Nations meeting.

“I cannot discuss much on this issue because it is before the courts, but what I can say, in general, is that there was outside influence in the matter to embarrass the president who was in Japan at that time,” he told the MPs.

Riots erupted at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in March as inmates fought running battles with authorities over lack of food. The clashes resulted in the death of five inmates while several prison officers were injured.

The prisoners claimed they were rioting over the lack and poor quality of food but authorities pinned Gumbura – the jailed pastor convicted of rape – as the mastermind of the failed move.

Gumbura has been hauled before the courts facing charges of attempting to escape from a lawful custody.

Machingauta said although before the riot, the country’s prisons did not have enough food, government moved quickly after the chaos and provide food for inmates which could last until end of June.

“If the ministry of finance does not give us money to capacitate our farms, then there will be hunger again. We need to have our farms operating at full capacity to ensure that we don’t run dry,” he said.

The country’s prisons, according to authorities, are over-crowded.

“We have more than 20,000 inmates countrywide and our carrying capacity is 17000,” said Machingauta.

“There is need for more resource mobilisation. If you look at Chikurubi, it’s overcrowded and we have no resources to look after our inmates.”

The committee had summoned the prison authorities to inquire whether measures had been taken to prevent further jail break attempts

Machingaura said they have security at Chikurubi maximum prison following the riots.

He however, pleaded with the MPs to push government to allocate adequate funding to the department so that they could utilise their farms and have enough food for the inmates.

Source : New Zimbabwe