26 October 2013

Zimbabwe: Prison Break Was an Inside Job?

The escape by two inmates from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison Farm on Wednesday afternoon could have been an inside job after authorities found anomalies pointing to connivance. The two prisoners escaped from the maximum security prison farm after they allegedly attacked a prison officer with a pick head, leaving him for dead.

Sources said yesterday that authorities strongly believe that Carrington Mutambarika (21) and Brighton Tshuma (23) were assisted by the same prison officer they attacked to escape.

They suspect that the deal could have gone wrong, resulting in the prisoners attacking the officer, Tapera Dinera (33).

Mutambarika was serving seven years for robbery after being sentenced in 2010, while Tshuma had four years for 12 counts of housebreaking and theft after being sentenced in 2011.

Mutambarika gave his address as C20 Block 9 Matapi Flats, while Tshuma was said to come from Hwange.

A visit to the flat number in an effort to locate Mutambarika's relatives drew blanks yesterday.

"We do not know him. It's only me and my sister who stay in this flat," said a lady at the flat.

A prison officer who refused to be named said criminals were in the habit of giving wrong addresses upon arrest.

Mutambarika and Tshuma had been transferred in July from Harare Central Prison to the prison farm where inmates serving sentences below 30 months are kept.

"We strongly suspect that the prison officer could have a hand in this escape and we will quiz him," the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services source who declined to be named said.

"It was a hot day and why was the officer wearing two other pairs of trousers and a jacket inside his uniform? Authorities have to get to the bottom of this case."

But Dinera brushed off the allegations, saying it was just unfortunate that the prisoners escaped and people were likely to speculate when such an incident occurred.

Dinera was discharged from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals on Thursday after being admitted following the attack.

"I had once taken one of them out of prison to do errands and I trusted them," Dinera, who was still visibly in pain, told The Herald at the prison farm.

With his head still strapped in a bandage, Dinera said on the fateful day around 1pm, he signed out the two prisoners to assist him carry two buckets of water to his house at the prison's old camp since there was no running water.

"There was no water and I asked them to carry my buckets to my house before we proceeded to fetch firewood," he said. "This is when the pair unexpectedly pounced on me with bricks and one of them attacked me with a pick head on the back of my head.

"I lost consciousness and fell to the ground and when I regained consciousness my hands and feet were tied with shoe laces and they had stripped my uniform and clothes off and left me wearing a t-shirt and a short trousers."

Dinera took the prisoners to the bush nearly a kilometre away from the main prison complex to fetch the firewood for his use.

He was unarmed when he went that far from the prison complex with the prisoners.

Dinera said the prisoners stole his US$30 and his work identification particulars and fled. "I crawled for 30 metres and this is when I got help from another officer who was passing by," he said.

National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi yesterday said police had launched a manhunt for the jail breakers.

He appealed to anyone with information to contact their nearest police station.

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