ZIMBABWE – One of the inmates testifying in a matter in which nine prisoners are standing accused of causing the March 13 Chikurubi Maximum Prison riots revealed that prison officers helped Robert Martin Gumbura smuggle cigarettes into the jail.
Claudius Mutizwa also said that Gumbura had two body guards and a secretary who would record the number of cigarettes smuggled into the prison cells.
Mutizwa made the revelations whilst he was being cross examined by lawyer Tapson Dzvetero who is representing Gumbura.
Gumbura is amongst the nine suspects.
“From the period extending from December 2014 to March 13 2015 Gumbura received bricks of cigarettes from his relatives and wives.
“On one time I saw a prison officer walking in with eight bricks of cigarettes in his uniform trousers.
“Gumbura had his personal base where he stayed most of the time with his two body guards and a secretary called David Mwanjira whom I spent most of the time with.
“Mwanjira is the one who recorded all the cigarettes that were smuggled into the prison.
“I remember the last recording of 960 packets of cigarettes that were recorded.
“I know of this since Mwanjira was my best friend and at times I would help him count and make sure the sacks were secure.
“Three sacks of the cigarettes were kept in the library where I was working.
“It is unfortunate that the records were destroyed during the jailbreak attempt,” he said.
Mutizwa also told the court that he would only witness the time the cigarettes were being offloaded and did not know much about how they were brought into the cells.
Gumbura is said to have approached Mutizwa and enquired on his opinion over the food they were being served at the maximum prison.
“The only part of the process I witnessed was the receiving end and that is when the prison officers would be handing him the cigarettes.
“Gumbura came to me two days before the jailbreak attempt asking me what I had in mind about the food we were eating.
“I told him that I was not happy too but there was not anything we would not do to change the situation.
“He said to me that we Zimbabweans are stupid and do not have guts to react and if it was in South Africa prisoners would protest.
“He had also asked me to join in the protests,” he said.
While addressing his other counterparts Gumbura allegedly gave a reference to a situation he had just read from a newspaper citing a jailbreak that had recently occurred in South Africa.
Mutizwa asked for an adjournment at the midst of cross-examination by lawyer Tapson Dzvetero after saying that one of the senior prison officers would visit Gumbura for a chat.
Magistrate Francis Mapfumo deferred the matter to November 9 for trial continuation.