THE Chikurubi Maximum Security prisoner who got help from prison wardens to escape from jail earlier this year has been sentenced to four years imprisonment.
Harare Magistrate Victoria Mashamba said only a custodial sentence could have done justice as well as send a clear warning to other would be offenders (inmates) not to commit a similar offence.
“The court is surprised at the fact that the accused person was assisted by prison officers. The court will consider that the accused person did not use violence during the escape but only a custodial sentence will serve the interest of justice,” ruled Magistrate Mashamba.
The escapee Tawanda Chikonyora (35) was only left with 39 days of his 3 year-sentence on theft charges at the time of his assisted prison break on 24 January 2017.
“The court has decided to reduce the maximum number of years a person who escaped from lawful custody from the mandatory seven year to four years. You are therefore sentenced to four years imprisonment of which one is suspended on condition of good behavior. As a result three years are effective,” Mashamba ruled.
During mitigation, Chikonyora unsuccessfully pleaded with the court for lenience arguing that he had no intentions to escape but he was forced by prison wardens who were receiving money from other inmates on his phone.
Under Zimbabwean laws inmates are not allowed to have cellphones while in custody.
As an “A” class inmate (an inmate with few days to serve and are regarded as not dangerous), Chikonyora said he managed to get access to his phone and it would be used by other prisoners and prison officers to carry out transactions using Ecocash in order to get special favours.
“The officers who were involved in the scam helped to escape from prison arguing that if I was not there they would not be reprimanded,” he said.
Chikonyora implicated one senior prison officer only identified as Gandawa.
He added that he was given civilian clothes and bus fare by the officer and left the highly protected prison undetected around 6am on January 24, 2017.