Prison officers punished for reading newsletter

Nine senior Zimbabwe Prison Service officers based in Rusape have been placed on forced transfer, as ‘punishment’ for allegedly reading Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s newsletter.

The only senior officer to survive the chop is the officer-in-charge, Superintendent Phillip Zimondi. He was away attending an administrative course of senior prison officers in Vumba when the incident happened.

A retired ZPS officer, who asked not to be identified for fear of victimization, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that some of the senior officers placed on transfer attended the same course with Zimondi but were unfortunate to be branded pro-MDC. All the nine officers affected were housed in the living quarters of the prison complex.

We can reveal that Chief Prison Officer Manatsa is to be transferred to Chikurubi, Principal Prison Officer Mungate is to be sent to Bindura, while Senior Prison officers Mazhangara and Mafara are going to Gwanda and Mazowe. Prison officer Chemhere is making a short journey to Nyazura, while officer Guri is going to Chipinge.

Two more senior officers, Chapo and Sachikonye, have been moved but we could not verify where they have been transferred to. The problem for the officers started back in November last year when a wife to one of them was seen by some CIO officers, handing over a copy of Tsvangirai’s newsletter to Guri outside the prison complex. The woman in question is married to SPO Mafara.

Apparently the CIO offices in Rusape are opposite the prison complex. The state security agents immediately took Guri and Mrs Mafara into custody. She was tortured for three days, according to the retired ZPS officer.

‘While Guri was only interrogated for close to nine hours, Mafara’s wife was held for three days where she endured endless torture. Guri told his interrogators that as a trained journalist, he saw no reason why he couldn’t read the newsletter to keep himself up to date with events,’ the ex-ZPS officer said.

He continued: ‘What made things worse for the Mafara’s was that after a house search by the CIO’s they found an MDC t-shirt that belonged to a relative. I think when she was further tortured she was forced to implicate some officers in MDC activities.’

We were able to contact some of the officers, who confirmed the transfers but said no disciplinary hearings were conducted to warrant such drastic action from the prison bosses.

They told us they are being victimized for something they didn’t do and said the same would not have happened to well known ZANU PF zealots working for the ZPS.

‘A quick check of the top hierarchy of the prison service in all the provinces will tell you that all the senior officers support ZANU PF openly. The moment you are suspected to belong to MDC, you are straight away suspended, fired or transferred. – SW Radio

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