Thursday, November 24, 2005

"My four days in Mugabe's prison."

John "Briggs" Bomba who was part of the ZCTU led demonstration in Harare three weeks ago, has written a testimonial of his ordeal behind bars in Zimbabwe's defunct justice system. The article, which appears in the 26 November edition of the Socialist Worker Online, chronicles not only the horrific details of filth and inhumane treatment in jail, but also the inspirational story of bold defiance of oppression that is gathering steam in Zimbabwe. Here's an excerpt;
Arriving at the station we were ordered to line up at gunpoint. We were harassed into stinking filthy cells, heavily infested with bed bugs and lice. The police were clearly overwhelmed by the large numbers. The simple procedure of taking down our details took forever. The cops were also clearly demoralised and looked disinterested.

It's becoming more and more obvious that junior officers are cracking and coming to sympathise with the poor masses. The fact is that junior police officers suffer like all of us. They get peanuts while police chiefs own farms, drive the latest cars and are get fatter by the minute.

On the first night of our detention our lawyers had to fight to get us fed, as some overzealous officers wanted to starve us. The police chiefs had insisted on feeding us prison food, which they would not give to their dogs.

Sometime after 9pm a new ordeal began. We were ordered onto a lorry, and packed in tightly like grain bags, while a group of tired farm worker or war veteran looking guys in overalls and worksuits pointed AK-47 assault rifles at us. We were kept in the dark as to where we were going and throughout our imprisonment such mystification remained a key weapon the police would use to torture us.

We were taken to Makoni central police station in the town of Chitungwiza, south of Harare. Here we were detained from Tuesday evening to Friday evening. Chitungwiza hasn't had running water for three months. So we were detained at a place that had no water and no working toilets. We were packed in tiny cages like rats. There wasn’t room for everyone to sit down, so we would take turns.

Both the women’s and man’s cages had no toilets so we were given 20 litre plastic buckets to use, which filled up in no time. The cruel, stupid and overzealous cop on duty refused to let us empty them. The whole night we called on deaf ears. By morning as urine was flowing to where people were seated, the stupid officer continued to ignore the situation. We threatened to sue him personally for his cruelty but still unmoved. The same officer even had the audacity to deny drugs to HIV positive prisoners.
Read the rest of the article here.

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