THREE dangerous criminals – one of them on death row – allegedly killed a fellow cellmate in cold blood at Wha Wha Medium Prison in Gweru after he refused to join their plot to break out of prison.
Two of the convicts – Wellington Gadzira (46) and Moses Pedzisai Mahuvava (38) appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese yesterday facing one count of murder each.
The duo together with their accomplice Johannes Nyasha Masiiwa (32) allegedly murdered Abel Maphosa (then 56) who was one of the convicts who murdered Moses Chokuda of Gokwe together with the son of the Minister of State for Midlands Province, Jason Machaya – Farai – in 2009.
Gadzira and Mahuvava are pleading guilty to a lesser charge of culpable homicide through their pro-deo lawyers Mr Nomore Hlabano and Mr Tatenda Manika.
Masiiwa did not attend court as he is undergoing psychiatric examination at Mlondolozi Mental Health Prison in Bulawayo and his matter has been postponed indefinitely.
Gadzira and Mahuvava were remanded in custody to May 22 for continuation of trial.
Maphosa, Farai together with brothers Edmore and Bothwel Gana, were each jailed for 18 years by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi in 2011 for murdering Chokuda.
Chokuda – whose body spent close to two years allegedly dripping blood in a mortuary at Gokwe District Hospital – was only buried after his relatives got 20 cattle and $15 000 cash as compensation from Machaya.
Yesterday, the State called prison officer Cuthbert Chakawa to the witness stand.
He said after Maphosa’s death in November 2011, he went to investigate and saw that there was an indication that an attempt to escape from the prison during a power outage had been made.
He said the attempted prison break failed because electricity was promptly restored.
"The accused persons, after it was observed that they had murdered Maphosa, indicated that they had asked him to be part of their plan to escape and he had refused. They said they killed him. I don’t know the roles they played in the assault leading to the death of Maphosa," said PO Chakawa.
Prosecutor Mr Samuel Pedzisai told the court that Gadzira, Mahuvava and Masiiwa were sharing prison cell number 19 at Wha Wha Medium Prison in November 2011 with Maphosa.
Mr Pedzisai said on November 23 while Maphosa was attending court at Gweru Magistrates Court (for a matter not mentioned in court yesterday), Gadzira, Mahuvava and Masiiwa planned a prison break.
"They took a piece of wire which was used to secure a cell light, sharpened it and used it to cut a hole at the bottom of the locked wooden cell door. When the deceased returned from court, the accused persons asked him to be part of their plan to escape from the prison. The deceased refused to join them," he said.
Mr Pedzisai said Gadzira, Mahuvava and Masiiwa hatched a plan to kill Maphosa.
"The accused persons then bashed the deceased’s head against the wall and kicked him below the chin. They tore a blanket into strips and used the strips to tie the deceased hands and legs. They stuffed a towel in the deceased’s mouth," he said. Mr Pedzisai said the trio escaped from their prison cell during a power outage.
"Before they could escape from the prison, electricity was restored and they returned to their cell in fear of getting caught. The deceased’s body was discovered by prison officers during the morning roll call," he said.
Gadzira is an inmate at Chikurubi Maximum Prison where he is on death row after he was convicted of poisoning Bulawayo miners, Mr William Porvey and Mr Michael Sunerland with cyanide before gruesomely stoning them to death near Kwekwe.
Mahuvava is serving a 30-year jail sentence for unlawful entry and theft and Masiiwa is one of the two self-proclaimed Gweru prophets who were arrested for allegedly axing to death a Mkoba Village 2 woman and fellow church member, Mrs Patience Mpofu during a prayer session at her home.
Masiiwa was admitted as a psychiatric patient at Mlondolozi Mental Health Prison after the murder of Maphosa.