ZIMBABWE – A CONVICT accused of inciting a food riot which claimed five lives at Chikurubi Maximum Prison early this year, has claimed that a senior prison official linked to the Zanu PF faction led by former VP Joice Mujuru caused the fateful incident.
Jacob Sibanda told a Harare court this week that Assistant Commissioner Jealous Dumbura was aligned to Zanu PF Gamatox faction and terrorised inmates who refused to back the group.
Sibanda first requested the court to protect him as he claimed he was going to expose the rot which triggered food riot and why officers were engaged in running battles with inmates in D Hall, where it all started.
There were youths who had been recruited from among us and they would frequently cause havoc, he said.
A list of names was written down and given to Dumbura to take action but this did not help our situation as he was the leader of this team.
Dumbura said we were going to die of hunger since those who previously supplied food to the inmates had been fired for being members of the Gamatox (Mujuru faction).
He said go and cry before your father (President Mugabe) so that he can give you food as he did in 2014.
He also said the First Lady took animals and placed them in a farm so there was nowhere to cultivate food for the inmates anymore, Sibanda said.
Court heard inmates threw plates of porridge at Dumbura because he was arrogant while failing to ensure prisoners had good food.
After he was attacked, Dumbura then ordered his officers to kill inmates, Sibanda said.
The convict also told court that Dumbura appointed one inmate, Titus Mandikodza, who succumbed to assault a day after the incident, as the ring leader of the Gamatox crew in the cells.
He was used by Dumbura, said Sibanda.
He was made to read us Bible verses which made us to be brave and be his followers. One day he read Jeremiah chapter 4, verse 9 and 13 which reads, it is better to die by the sword than of hunger.
Dumbura told us it was better to be lions than be lions in sheep skin meaning we were not supposed to pretend.
Court further heard that Sibanda was a dramatist and would move around all the cells entertaining other prisoners and, as such, got so close to Dumbura making him privy to his plots.
Dumbura ordered me to be friends with Mandikodza but I refused because I didnt want anything to do with politics; that is why he started hating me and later implicated me in these current charges, Sibanda submitted.
Sibanda added that he believed the assistant commissioner was currently going through emotional and mental torment as he knew that he (Sibanda) was going to spill the beans.
The convict further revealed that he was threatened by Dumbura not to reveal anything.
Dumbura approached me in my cell in FB1 after we were arrested for this crime and advised me not to be too clever or expose the truth.
He made it clear that the magistrate would still rule in favour of the state as he would lose his job if he ever fails to convict the nine accused.
The court heard that Dumbura even gave an example of some officials, including one prosecutor Kadengu, who had lost their jobs for exposing the truth.
Sibanda is being accused together with other seven inmates including Robert Martin Gumbura.
They are accused of trying to escape from jail, damaging prison property and assaulting or resisting prison officers. Trial continues on Monday.