THE head of a medium security prison offered a “fresh air” Christmas treat for 15 inmates but was made to regret this moments later as the prisoners scattered in all directions.
Ten of the prisoners were rounded-up and returned to their cells at Wha Wha Prison in Gweru, but five made good their escape.
The Zimbabwe Prison Service has suspended Wha Wha boss, the brilliantly-named Chief Prison Officer Chanakidzwa, over the incident, spokeswoman Priscilla Mtembo said from Bulawayo.
The state-run Herald newspaper reported Friday that alarm was raised just after lunchtime on Christmas eve after Chanakidzwa offered the prisoners from Section C a brief “feel of the natural world”.
At the time, prison authorities say there should have been at least three guards in line with the Prison Service’s four-inmates-per-guard policy.
Officials say no sooner had the prisoners come out of their cells that they started running in all directions to escape.
A witness said: “The whole incident was like a Hollywood movie. You could hear Chanakidzwa shouting ‘ndibatsirei vanhuwe! Huyai mundibatsire vasungwa votiza’ (Help me please, come and help the prisoners are escaping).”
Amazingly, officials said, low-risk prisoners in the last stages of their sentences, and who are allowed outside, came to Chanakidzwa’s aid as they helped him round-up ten of the escapees.
However, five slipped the net and enjoyed more than just a brief “feel of the natural world” as they spent Christmas and New Year as free men. They were still on the run this week.