Prison officers transferred

zimbabwe_prison_officerHARARE - The Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) has transferred with immediate effect more than 70 senior prison officers from Chikurubi maximum security prison for allegedly hailing army Captain Albert Matapo as the future president.

Matapo was last week cleared of charges of plotting a coup by a the high court and is serving a five year jail term for attempting to escape from prison.

The affected officers said they had been victimized for calling the detained Matapo ‘the next Zimbabwean President’.

“We were on Friday called for a big parade where the names of those who are being transferred to remote prisons throughout the country were announced. Senior officers from the prison headquarters said the reason why we were transferred is that we were calling Matapo the new President of Zimbabwe.

“We are definitely going to appeal against the transfers because they are politically motivated. In fact we are going to appeal to the ministry of justice and proceed to the inclusive government if we are not given the attention we need,” said some of affected senior officers.

The officers have been posted to Hwange, Gokwe, Gwanda, Tsholotsho and Chipinge, Binga and Mount Darwin.

“At the parade we were also told that they were some of us who had the habit of leaking information to the media and the transfers were meant to keep them away from Harare where journalists are dominant,” said one officer.

The prisons spokesperson, Pricilla Mtembo, confirmed that there were transfers going on in the department.

“There are transfers going on throughout the entire prison service including Chikurubi Prison, but what I can not confirm is what has motivated them. I need to confirm with the relevant authorities before I talk to the media, she said.

In May, seven inmates headed by Albert Matapo managed to break out of a cell at Chikurubi maximum prison, but failed to escape because they had been drinking too much. The attempted escape prompted an investigation into the alleged co-operation of prison officers.

Officers at Chikurubi prison say the officer-in-charge, Senior Assistant Kombai, has been left untouched because he is a war veteran who participated in the anti-MDC-T supporters campaign in the controversial June 2008 Presidential run-off elections.

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