By Costa Nkomo
FIREBRAND MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala Wednesday demanded the closure of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison saying the country’s biggest jail was unfit for human habitation.
Chikurubi, a highly fortified prison, some 15 kilometres east of Harare, is home to over 2 000 men classified as dangerous prisoners who are said to be living under horrible conditions with no running water and facemasks as the country battles the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sikhala, who is facing charges of inciting the public violence, was arrested last month and was incarcerated at the maximum-security facility for weeks after he was denied bail at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.
However, he was freed on $50 000 bail at the High Court Tuesday leading to his release Wednesday.
Speaking to hundreds of party supporters gathered outside the prison complex on his release, Sikhala said the infamous jail must be closed.
“The new order is going to close down this horrible and inhabitable infrastructure called Chikurubi Maximum Prison. We are going to make sure that Chikurubi is turned into a museum. It is not worth human habitation,” Sikhala said.
“People inside are surviving on food not worth even fit to feed a dog. People there are starving. I have lost weight myself because of the diet I was getting inside.”
The Zengeza West legislator said his lawyers and relatives were blocked by prison officers from bringing him food.
He also attacked President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for its failure to improve the welfare of civil servants claiming they were receiving salaries that could only buy three chickens.
“We can’t have a country where prison officers are paid a salary worth three village road runner chickens. The same applies to nurses and teachers. If the government was responsible, and not looting and plundering the economy, they were supposed to construct housing for our civil servants.
“When a prison guard retires, he or she must have somewhere to go and put his or her head. The same with a teacher, a soldier and everybody who has been working for this country,” Sikhala said.