AN inmate allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself with a piece of cloth in a toilet at Hwange Prison.
Liberty Nkomazana (24) had been serving a nine months jail term for three offences – threats to commit murder, physical abuse and malicious damage to property – which he committed in November last year.
He was sentenced to an effective nine months in jail.
He was due for release from jail on 29 July this year and was last week removed from a protected cell to commence duties as partially free prisoner as is the norm with those almost due for release.
Nkomazana was put in charge of distributing prison garb to new inmates and guarding other prisoners’ clothes from dropping on the washing line outside.
On the fateful day, Nkomazana had finished his duties when a prison officer found his body in the toilet.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda confirmed receiving a report but referred questions to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.
ZPCS spokesperson Superintendent Meya Khanyezi could not be reached on her mobile phone. A source at Hwange Prison said the incident happened on the day Nkomazana was removed from cell confinement.
ZPCS spokesperson Superintendent Meya Khanyezi
“On May 2 Liberty Nkomazana was released from cells to performance duties of giving new inmates uniforms and taking custody of fellow inmates’ laundry in the cell yard.
This is more like promotion or partial freedom given to those closer day of release,” said the source.
The source said on the same day at around 1pm, Nkomazana handed prison garb to the last new inmate for the day before he went to sit in the prison yard.
Around 2pm, a prison officer Donald Munga who was on duty and doing routine checks around spotted Nkomazana’s lifeless body in the toilet.
When he went in to check he found that he had a rope made of twisted pieces of cloth around his neck and tied to a galvanised water pipe about a metre high from the floor.
Nkomazana’s body was in a sitting position with both legs stretched out.
The tongue was protruding and he had soiled himself.
A report was made to the police who attended the scene and took the body, which was conveyed to Bulawayo for postmortem.