Prosper Dembedza Court Correspondent
The 960 bricks of cigarettes that were smuggled into Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison by jailed Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura were used by inmates to pay bribes to their sodomy victims.
Claudius Mutizwa, a witness in a case in which Gumbura and eight others are suspected of attempting to break out of jail, told the court yesterday that the cigarrettes were also used to buy allegiance from other inmates to take part in the jail break.
Gumbura is jointly charged with Blessing Chauke (25), Lucky Mhungu (38), Taurai Dodzo (47), Thomas Chacha (37), Thulani Chizema (32), Jacob Sibanda (28) and Elijah Vhumbunu (38), and notorious armed robber Lucky Matambanadzo (39).
They are facing charges of attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances or alternatively conspiracy in aggravating circumstances for malicious damage to property.
During re-examination by prosecutor Mr Micheal Reza, Mutizwa said Gumbura smuggled 960 bricks of cigarettes into the prison.
“Cigarettes are very important in prison and are regarded as currency,” he said.
“Those who are engaged in homosexual activities use the cigarettes to pay pride price.”
Mutizwa told the court that Gumbura used his bodyguard identified as Job Vera to distribute the cigarettes in prison as a way of buying allegiance from other inmates so that he would earn respect from them and take part in his jail break plans.
Magistrate Mr Francis Mapfumo deferred the matter to January 15 when the State is expected to lead its second witness.
Mr Reza alleged that during the morning of February 13 in B Hall, Gumbura allegedly incited other inmates to protest against the “poor” food they were being served.
With the intention to escape, Chauke, Matambanadzo, Mhungu, Dodzo, Chacha, Sibanda, Vhumbunu, Chizema and three other inmates who are now deceased, influenced other inmates to reject the porridge which had no sugar, it is alleged.
Violence erupted, with prisoners vandalising property whose value was estimated at $450 000.