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ZIMBABWE Prisons Services (ZPS) was Wednesday found not guilty of disobeying a court order which required them to give toiletries to eight Chikurubi maximum prison inmates being accused of inciting a food riot in February this year.

The eight who have been transferred to remand prison have made allegations that they were still being denied access to toilet paper, bathing soap, towels, tooth paste and toothbrushes among other toiletries despite being armed with a court order.

Magistrate Tendai Mahwe said the order was not wilfully ignored, further highlighting that the accused were equally to blame.

“There was too much commotion and the services did not incite it but inmates themselves.

It’s not only these eight convicts who lost their belongings but also others as such it does not make sense to order the prisons to retrieve the staff and reallocate it,” Mahwe said.

Mahwe said it was a lame defence to insist that prisons service should replace belongings that got destroyed by inmates themselves.

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.

Through their lawyer, David Hofisi, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the convicts demanded to know what had happened to their belongings after the food riot which claimed lives of five inmates on February 13.

Chief Prison Officer Desire Mutsindiri said the convicts should get the supplies from their relatives because the authority was currently not capable of providing toiletries.

Mutsindiri Tuesday told the court that inmates threw their belongings into the fire when they were protesting over food.

The eight, 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.

Gumbura has been excused on this matter after his lawyer Tapson Dzvetero gave a notice that his client’s relatives have since brought him the items in question.

They will be back in court on June 5 for their referral to the constitutional Court ruling.

Source : New Zimbabwe