Opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngarivhume, who has been arrested a number of times by the current regime has described conditions at the country’s prisons as horrible.
Ngarivhume was speaking Monday during This Morning on Asakhe, an online programme hosted by CITE on Twitter Space.
“The state of our prisons is terrible,” said Ngarivhume.
“One thing I would ask the veterans of the national liberation struggle when I meet them in heaven would be: ‘when you went to these prisons, Gonakudzingwa and Khami, were the conditions as bad and as horrible as the ones that we went through?
I would ask Nkomo (late vice president) that one day. The prisons in Zimbabwe are horrible. My heart bleeds for my colleagues like Godfrey Sithole and Job Sikhala.”
He said for the 45 days he spent at Chikurubi Maximum Prison there was no running water and could not access any literature to read until he had to bribe a prison officer.
“In fact, I know most of the nationalists like Mugabe and most of them, actually acquired their learning through prison learning,” he said.
“You know Ian Smith, as evil as he was, he would allow them to read, study, and acquire degrees but I was not allowed to take through a single book to read from prison.”
He said the food he was having in the prison was “out of this world.”
“The food is nothing but just boiled beans, just water, and salt. It is basically like that.”
He said there was a gross violation of human rights in prisons.
“When you’re in our prisons, you basically have no rights,” said Ngarivhume.
“I saw it one time I went ballistic with my friend Hopewell because, you know, after you go to court, as you come back to the prison, they would strip you naked, and then they said ‘we are searching if you took any weapons when you went to court’ And then we refused that. I personally said no, you can’t humiliate me like that to take off my clothes before everybody else here.”
He said his experiences behind the bars made him determined in his mind to fight his entire life for a better Zimbabwe.
“Prisoners should have rights,” he emphasized.
“Even if you are in that prison for murder, you still have your basic rights as enshrined in the law and in international law as well. But you know, it’s a jungle. It’s a jungle.”
Ngarivhume also lamented overcrowding in prisons saying 50 inmates could sleep in one small room.
“How do you expect 50 people to sleep in a room without a toilet?” he queried.
“There’s no heart, there’s no conscience in this leadership, and I tell you it means a lot,” he said.
“Most people who go to prison, come back cowards. They can’t go back there. Thank God for people who continue to defy unjust laws, who continue to speak out as we see in our colleagues (Sikhala and others). That’s commendable. And that’s the spirit that eventually liberated Zimbabwe.”