9 months of hell inside Chikurubi prison

Yvonne Musarurwa is an MDC-T Harare Youth Assembly member who has just spent 9 months in Chikurubi, which she said was a ‘nightmare.’

At one time Yvonne and her colleague Rebecca Mafukeni thought they were Zimbabwe’s ‘most isolated women’ after they were held in an extreme form of solitary confinement under a ‘no human contact’ order for months. The two only got 20 minutes a day for laundry, bathing and exercise.

Speaking to SW Radio Africa’s Hidden Story program on Wednesday, Yvonne opened up her heart and said when she looked in the mirror after her release she gave thanks to God for keeping her and Rebecca alive.

‘During the first few weeks, we couldn’t cope with living in prison. Rebecca and I broke down completely. We thought we were going to die. But slowly, when we realized there were people who have been there many years before us, the condemned prisoners, we thought okay, we might make it as well,’ she said.

Yvonne and Rebecca were part of the Glen View 7 who were granted bail last week Friday by the Supreme Court, after spending 9 months in remand prison, ‘for a crime I did not commit.’

The other five are Glen View Councillor Tungamirai Madzokere, brothers Lazarus and Stanford Maengahama, Phineas Nhatarikwa, and Stanford Mangwiro. The seven were among the first to be picked up by the police after Inspector Petros Mutedza was murdered at a beer hall in Glen View.

The more the group spent time with the law and order officers, instead of homicide who investigate murders, the more they realized police were struggling to build a case against them.

‘This was a murder case but we were being interrogated by officers from the Law and Order section and this looked weird,’ Yvonne said.

The group was denied bail on several occasions by the High Court, as the judges claimed they were a flight risk.

‘That was the most shocking part, being denied bail for something you know very well you were not part of. The day the police officer died, I wasn’t even near Glen View and I only got to know how he looked like when I saw his picture in the newspaper.’

According to witnesses, Mutedza was killed in a violent clash with unknown assailants who had been drinking at a beer hall, although there had been an MDC meeting nearby. Glen View residents described Mutedza as a violent thug who would use his rank to confiscate goods from vendors.

‘The first weeks in police custody were the toughest. We were being interrogated, beaten and tortured. I’ve never felt so much pain in life before. I sustained a broken hand; lacerations all over the body and the only thing I got for all that were a few tablets of paracetamol,’ Yvonne said.

‘They said we were MDC and that there was every chance we would influence the other prisoners and clash with others from ZANU PF. This is why they kept us in solitary confinement. The conditions though were very bad. We stayed in cells that had raw sewage passing through and we cleaned that up using our bare hands. That was the most difficult part and I told myself the day Zimbabwe is free from tyranny, I will personally go to the Minister of Justice and those in charge of prisons to tell them exactly what needs to be done.’ – SW Radio Africa News

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