I had less than ten minutes to buy and eat food before I continued with my assignment at Moonlight Building, along Fifth Street in Gweru.
Being the ‘hard maShona type’ that need their sadza twice a day, visiting Chicken Express across the street for some ‘masalala’ delicacies was out of question. I asked a friend who worked in the internet cafe where I could buy sadza. It was then that a smartly dressed, clean-shaven man in his early thirties asked me to follow him if I wanted delicious t-bone steak, served with either sadza or rice.
I complied, and we promptly paced eastwards towards the charge office.
As we waited for traffic to pass through, facing the Gweru central police station entrance, I began to panic. Where had I seen this guy? Yes, at some event at Midlands Hotel. He was a member of the Police Internal Security Intelligence (P.I.S.I.) and we attended most public meetings together, in line with the Public Order Security Act (POSA) which requires the police to be present at such meetings.
By the way, what had I said concerning Itai Dzamara while at Monnlight Building? I panicked, and quickly fished out my cellphone so that I could call my journalistic colleagues, especially fellow members of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Zimbabwe) Gweru Advocacy Committee, so that I could inform them of ‘my arrest.’
“Hanti sadza richiriko here shefu,” his enquiries brought me back to earth.
“Rinopera rabiwa, dhara,” answered the ‘shefu,’ informing him that there was still a lot of the starchy food.
That is how I came to know that sadza is sold at the police station, located in the Midlands capital’s central business district.
The same police station long stopped feeding inmates temporarily held at the cells, and relatives who visit them are directed to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Women’s Projects Section within the complex where food is sold.
If no relative pays you a visit, then ‘it is not their fault!’
“Unlike years back when it was not easy for inmates to withdraw their money from the charge office, nowadays that process is done hastily, no bureaucratic hurdles as before,” informed a police source.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
Police and prison authorities have always complained that they are not getting enough money from the treasury to feed inmates, forcing them to starve the prisoners.
In March prison, plus military and intelligence officers armed to the teeth had to be called after inmates at Chikurubi Maximum Prison rioted, complaining of poor quality food.
Up to seven inmates are said to have been shot dead.
“They had refused to eat sadza with vegetables alone, but we cannot ascertain what exactly they wanted and who was refusing to have the vegetables,” Zimbabwe prison and Correctional services spokesperson Elizabeth Banda told members of the press.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa later told Parliament that jailed RGM Ministries leader Pastor Robert Martin Gumbura had been behind the riots.
Zengeza legislator Simon Chidhakwa had demanded to know how Government responded to the alleged mutiny.