Official Tells Of Horrific Conditions In Zimbabwe Jail Roy Bennett, a leader of the opposition party in Zimbabwe, flew to Harare last month to accept a Cabinet-level position in the unity government. But instead, he was arrested on the runway without explanation and jailed for a month. Bennett describes the harsh conditions he saw in prison.
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Official Tells Of Horrific Conditions In Zimbabwe Jail

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Official Tells Of Horrific Conditions In Zimbabwe Jail

Official Tells Of Horrific Conditions In Zimbabwe Jail

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JACKI LYDEN, Host:

Roy Bennett was released on bail this past week but still faces charges on three-year-old allegations involving the possession of weapons and intent to sabotage the state. We reached him earlier today in Harare and asked him about his incarceration.

M: And during my time in the prison, what happens is that people get into where they are dying, and they are moved into what used to be the punishment blocks or the isolation blocks for prisoners that were errant, and those blocks were designed for one prisoner at a time. Now, five people are put in those cells, and it's the people that are dying that are chucked in there. And then when they die, the prison has no transport to remove the body. So, the body can stay in the prisons of anything up to four to five days, without refrigeration or anything, before they are moved. And whilst I was there, five people actually died, and I witnessed their bodies being removed, sometimes four days, sometimes five days after their death.

LYDEN: Roy Bennett, I have to say, it sounds like a nightmare.

M: It's an absolute human rights disaster. It's a tragedy. And you know, the powers that be that are forcing people into these conditions should surely face crimes against humanity and definitely, it is disgusting, absolutely disgusting.

LYDEN: You managed to get released on bail, but you could be incarcerated again. What were the terms of your release?

M: The Supreme Court granted me bail, this time was a $5,000 bail. I report three times, three times a week to the police and that I surrender my passport, and that's the circumstances I find myself in now.

LYDEN: We know that Prime Minister Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition party, the MDC, was recently the victim of a suspicious car accident in which his wife was killed. Have you visited him?

M: You know, his head was swollen and he was full of bruises, but he is still very convicted in moving the whole process forward and trying to bring about a decency in our country and relief for the people.

LYDEN: Is there any more word among government officials about the cause of the accident?

M: There is a lot of suspicion around that accident. They have prevented private investigators - to anybody doing any follow up on the accident. So, you know, it's very uncertain, the issues around that accident.

LYDEN: What are your immediate plans? You were in exile in South Africa, but it sounds like now, according to the terms of your release from prison, you can't leave Zimbabwe.

M: The only way to move our country forward is with forgiveness and reconciliation, and allow the rule of law to be re-established in order that all those who have perpetuated murders and crimes against humanity go through the court process, get tried, and then there can be national healings so the people can feel vilified and the country can move forward.

LYDEN: Roy Bennett is a prominent member of the opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change. He was just released on Thursday after a month's imprisonment there. Mr. Bennett, good luck to you, and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.

M: Thank you, Jacki.

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