Zim musician jailed in Austria


HARARE – Zimbabwean musician Maxwell Chikowore aka Changa (pictured) is rotting in detention in Eisenstadt, Austria where he awaits deportation.

Changa has been held at the prison since April 4.

The musician, popular for his video Memo said he has been living in Europe (Austria and Germany) for almost the past decade.

Changa moved to Austria eight years ago after marrying an Austrian who used to work here in Zimbabwe and they have two children.

“Since 2006 I moved to stay in Germany, and when I recently visited Austria to see my two kids, I was told that my visa — which is permanent —had been terminated,” Changa told the Daily News in a telephone interview from his holding cell.

A friend of Changa in Berlin said: “The Austrian ‘Schubhaft’ (jail) is one of the worst in Europe, the conditions are bad. And as I know –—Changa had his Aufenthaltstitel (stay) fixed up to middle of 2014, but he lost his card and only wanted to renew it.

“They said that he lost his title because he had no registration in Austria any more. But they never told him before. So this was a real shock. And he is having his children there — how he can hold the contact with them?”

Added the friend: “And they just put people in prison, just because of ‘Verstoss gegen das Anmeldegesetz’ (doing something against the registration law), without a lawyer, and without a process.

This is unbelievable. As a foreigner you are losing your human rights like nothing.”

Efforts to get a comment from the Austrian embassy in Zimbabwe were fruitless as Rainer Sulzberger, the embassy’s first secretary was out of office.

She referred the Daily News to another contact who did not respond by the time of going to print.

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Changa said he suspects his former Austrian wife was behind his detention.

“She told authorities when I moved to Germany that I was missing, hence the visa cancellation, when she actually knew I was in Germany.”

Changa said it has been hell at the detention centre and the food was atrocious.

“The food here is bad and I haven’t been eating it,” he said.

“I depend on buying food from outside. I still await hearing on my case which is taking too much time.”

The musician said trouble brewed when he decided to go back to Austria to see his kids. At the prison holding centre, Changa says he shares a room with four other inmates from different countries.

He said life has turned for the worse.

“We only have an hour with our phones and they are taken away. Jail is killing me,” a distraught Changa said.

In just two years living in Austria, Changa had formed a reggae band and held gigs around pubs before moving to Berlin, Germany.

“When I moved to Berlin I joined a band called NRG Vibes led by Marcus who is a famous sound engineer in Berlin,” said Changa in an earlier interview. “I recorded my fifth reggae album in Berlin at Marcus’ Studio called King of a Tribe which comprise of 15 songs. I perform at private functions for embassies and other institutions. I also play in reggae clubs. I have played in Amsterdam where there is a lot of competition.”

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