Zim cops fired directly at prisoners

2015-03-19 05:00
Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa after being appointed as Zimbabwe's vice-president by President Robert Mugabe. (Jekesai Njikizana, AFP)

Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa after being appointed as Zimbabwe's vice-president by President Robert Mugabe. (Jekesai Njikizana, AFP)

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Harare - Police fired directly at prisoners who rioted at a high security jail in Harare last week, Zimbabwe Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told parliament on Wednesday.

Mnangagwa said prisoners armed themselves with pieces of wood and bricks and began attacking officers at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on Friday because they thought the police "[did] not have bullets".

"When the officers felt that they were in serious danger that is when they fired and one inmate died in prison," Mnangagwa said, contradicting earlier claims from a prisons spokesman that the first reported casualty was not shot but died in a stampede.

"Those who got wounded, one died the same day and the other three died later on. Altogether five have passed on," he said.

"Two had climbed the roof to escape and that is why they were shot," the vice-president, who is also justice minister, added.

He did not say whether the fifth victim died of gunshot wounds or from other injuries sustained during the chaos, which lasted three hours and was sparked by discontent over poor food.

Prison authorities insisted last week that officers only used blanks.

Mnangagwa admitted that he "had read in the press" what was said, but added: "I am giving this house the report I have received as minister of justice, legal and parliamentary affairs.

"I have no doubt that the report... is the authentic and official report, not the one that is in the newspapers," he added, in an official transcript of his speech.

Mnangagwa also told parliament that Robert Gumbura, a disgraced church leader convicted of rape, had masterminded the riot.

Read more on:    emmerson mnangagwa  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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