Thursday, 5 April 2012

Cry Havoc

Simon Mann's book

“69 Mercenaries arrested at Harare International Airport

I remember reading the headline 11 days before I left Zimbabwe.  I felt really sorry for them. Having been released from Harare Central Prison just 4 months earlier I knew what awaited them and I wouldn’t have wished it on my worst enemy.  

I followed the story from the UK.  Simon Mann was sentenced to 7 years in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.  After 4 years he was extradited to Equatorial Guinea where he was sentenced to a further 34 years.  After just 1.5 years at Black Beach Prison he was given a complete pardon by President Teodoro Obiang Ngueme.  

I have this morbid fascination about Zimbabwean prisons.  I think it all started in my early teens when my Aunt’s boss was sent to Remand Prison.  The stories she used to tell me left me gob smacked and so it began.  Little did I know that I’d get to experience life in a Zimbabwean Prison first hand but that is another story all together.

Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison

 I was really excited to see he’d written a book about his experiences.  I managed to get hold of a copy and read it within a day.  Any pity I once had for Simon Mann turned to disbelief and disgust.
He moans about being in prison.  He moans about being beaten up.  He moans about his Lawyer.  He moans
about the people who hired him to stage the coup. 

Prison life in Zimbabwe is hard.  If you are sentenced to anything more than 5 years the chances of you getting out alive are pretty slim.  There is no food.  There was a time when they allowed relatives to bring food parcels in but that has long since been stopped.  There is no electricity or running water.  That is just part of every day Zimbabwean life, never mind prison life.  

Zim CIO aren’t the brightest tools in the box but they are well known for being ruthless.  He is lucky he was only beaten up and not tortured, raped or even killed.

His lawyer is well known and is one of the best in Zim.  For 4 years his lawyer visited him once a week.  3 times a week (for 4 years) his lawyer sent him food and cigarettes to use as payment for protection etc.. yet he calls his lawyer the “croc” and moans about having to pay him.

He expected the people who hired him to stage the coup to come up with some sort of escape plan to get him out of prison and was really angry when they didn’t and even more angry when they denied all knowledge of it.

When he was extradited to EG he was treated like some sort of celebrity.  While the others lived in shackles and had no food or medicine he was given a treadmill, hotel food once a day and had two hernia operations.  
It is rumored that he paid half a million pounds to get out of Black Beach Prison.  Where that money came from we will never know but I certainly don't feel any pity for him.

In Black Beach Prison, EG