ESCAPED PRISONER CAUGHT, SLAPPED WITH THREE MORE YEARS | A prisoner, who was allegedly assisted by a senior prison officer to escape from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare in a bid to hide potentially incriminating information known by the prisoner, has been sent back to jail for an effective three years.
Tawanda Chikonyora (35), who was jailed for theft, only had 39 days left to serve from his four-year prison sentence.He escaped in January this year and told the court that he was assisted by a senior prison officer he identified as Gandiwa, only to be rearrested this month. Chikonyora told the court that Gandiwa gave him clothes to wear and bus fare before going out of the security walls without any hassles.
The magistrate Ms Victoria Mashamba said Chikonyora committed a serious offence of escaping from lawful custody before sentencing him to four years behind bars. One year was set aside for five years on condition he does not commit a similar offence within that period.
Ms Mashamba said the court was surprised as to why the prison officers involved acted in such a way.
“He was assisted by prison officers and the court is surprised why they conducted themselves in such a manner. The court will pass a harsh sentence on the convicted person to deter would-be offenders so that other prisoners and prison officers would not conduct in corrupt activities,” she said.
She added that community service or fine was a non-starter as they would trivialise the offence. Chikonyora on Monday spilled the beans and narrated to the court how some prison officers would get bribes from inmates through their relatives for special favours.
Chikonyora, who claimed to have had a mobile phone in his cell which he used to send mobile money to some prison officers, added that other inmates would also advise their relatives to send money to his mobile phone for onwards transmission to the prison officers.
Chikonyora said another senior prison officer who was not aware of the transactions, stumbled on his phone and saw all the transactions which were being done by the prison officers before asking for a bribe to buy his silence.He said he was forced to escape after he told Gandiwa that their deals had been exposed.
“I had no intentions to escape but fearing that they would be in trouble, Gandiwa ordered me to escape and he gave me some clothes to disguise myself out of prison and bus fare. I then left without an escort and disappeared,” he said.
On January 24, at around 6am, Chikonyora went to the prison farm for his routine duties and was supposed to report back at 6pm, but he instead escaped.