INMATES at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison were reportedly fed on relish cooked without salt and cooking oil in the week leading to Christmas holidays, NewsDay has reported.
This emerged yesterday when jailed cleric Robert Martin Gumbura and his seven alleged accomplices in an attempted jailbreak case appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court, where they filed an application to have prison authorities forced to provide them a balanced diet in line with international standards.
Gumbura’s co-accused Blessing Chiduke filed the application on behalf of his accomplices. He also accused senior prison officers of issuing death threats and denying them medication.
Prosecutor Michael Reza in response to the application brought a prisons medical doctor Tinashe Dobbie to lead evidence.
Dobbie told the court that under Statutory Instrument 96 of 2012 inmates were supposed to get a meal with 40mm of oil or 40g of drip/fat.
Dobbie, however, under cross-examination failed to refute the allegation that inmates in the week leading to Christmas were served relish without salt or oil.
“I cannot comment about the meals, the question can best be answered by the administration which handles the day to day running of the prison,” Dobie said.
On allegations of denied medication, Dobie said: “I believe the illnesses are not life threatening and cannot be referred to Parirenyatwa Hospital as if they are an emergency. We try to manage the situation internally first.”
At the beginning of the trial last year, the court heard that the riots which rocked the prison complex in March were led by prisoners who were demonstrating against poor food and lack of clean water.
Chiduke said he had a persistent pain on his spinal cord while his other co-accused, Lucky Mhungu, has hernia, dental problems and failing eyesight. Dobbie conceded to the inmates’ assertion that prison medical facilities offered no specialised services.
On the allegations of death threats, Reza said he was informed by prison authorities that this was not true. Presiding magistrate Francis Mapfumo will make his ruling on the application today before the trial continues.