Man spends 15 years in remand prison
HARARE – At 50, Jonathan Mutzinze entered this dungeon, and 15 years later, he sees no light at the end of the tunnel.
The self-proclaimed bishop of Jerusalem Apostolic Church says he might just rot in there with no one blinking an eyelid.
Mutzinze of Wedza, was arrested in 1998 after he purchased a stolen vehicle and was consequently taken to Harare Remand Prison which has been his home for the past 15 years.
The 65-year-old narrated his ordeal to journalists during a media tour at Harare Remand Prison.
He has not been afforded the chance to prove his innocence because of the delays in the judiciary process.
“In 2001 my trial came before Justice Charles Hungwe and the public prosecutor was Florence Ziyambe but was further remanded to April 6, 2003.
“Since then I have not been allowed to go to court. I have applied for bail numerous times but my efforts were fruitless. I even wrote a letter to see a judge but nothing is happening,” Mutzinze said.
“When Justice Chiweshe came here on March 7, 2011 I appealed to him but nothing happened. They are now asking me for bail numbers and I just do not have them.”
As if that was not enough trauma, none of Mutzinze’s relatives have ever visited him ever since his incarceration.
“The only relatives I have are the prison guards,” he said with his head tilted to the side.
He said that he had four wives and 10 children but two of his wives were deceased.
Mutzinze is among several other persons in remand prison awaiting trial. Other prisoners include MDC councillor Tungamirai Madzokere, who is part of the 29 Glen View residents accused of murdering a cop in the high density suburb in May 2011.
He has spent 21 months in remand prison.
While Mutzinze mulls his fate, Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) Commissioner General Paradzai Zimondi says they are overwhelmed by overcrowding in the country’s remand prisons.
“We are experiencing overcrowding mainly in remand prison as people are continuing to commit crimes while those waiting for trial and sentencing are taking long to be convicted,” Zimondi said.
Some of the overcrowding may also be due to about 148 foreigners who are yet to be sentenced.
The Daily News caught up with three prisoners from Pakistan and seven Malawians who await deportation to their respective countries.
One of the Pakistan inmates Ghulam Mustafa Janjua pleaded with this reporter to call his brother Altaf and beg him to purchase a ticket so he could return home.
The Malawians said they had been kept in remand prison for over nine months.
A South African inmate complained saying the living conditions were unbearable.
Zimondi said ZPS could not satisfactorily provide safe, secure and human control in accordance with the United Nations minimum standards because of inadequate funding.
In his 2013 budget presentation, Finance Minister Tendai Biti allocated ZPS $68 million for its operations.
However, $52 million is gobbled up in salaries leaving them with only $16 million to provide food, clothing, medicine and other necessities. – Thelma Chikwanha, Features Editor