NOTICES          - 7/5/2008      <--Prev : Next-->


Such fun we had in our tiny cell,...... 20 "pavement blockers" , shop lifters, ladies of the night .... and one small wannabee journalist !!

As I was pushed into the pitch dark cell at 10 p.m. at night.... I heard the hiss "makiwa" !!!

I slid silently down into a diminutive space on the concrete floor next to the foul smelling toilet, and tried desperately to get my eyes used to the terrifying darkness.... . then a soft hand reached over and shook my knee "Welcome Makiwa" what are you here for ?

When I mentioned my "Crime" there was an instant excited hullabaloo and space was made for me further away from the stench of the toilet....

Little did I know that the din was keeping fellow Journalist Jonathan Clayton awake in the cell next door !!

My Cell Mates were delightful if excitable, some of them had spent several nights on the cold concrete floor and were dressed accordingly. There were 21 of us in a cell measuring 5 meters by 3 meters and we had 4 blankets between us !!

April nights in Zimbabwe can be extremely chilly to say the least. When the dawn eventually broke, I noticed that most of the ladies were wearing their clothes turned inside out - a simple explanation if you are a "pavement blocker ? "

Once your fine has been paid in the morning, you turn your clothes the right way round, and go straight back to work as clean as a whistle .

One is allowed just two articles of clothing, no bra, no knickers, no shoes and no socks ! What was more alarming was that were were not allowed toilet paper or water either !!

Just a top article and a bottom article. HeeHoo had brought me a warm jacket and a track suit bottom, but my feet froze ....... the ladies were much cleverer than I, a warm top and a voluminous wrap around skirt that can serve as a blanket is much more sensible and a tip I will remember !!

Now a "pavement blocker" , I learned amidst much mirth, is a forex dealer ..... but one cannot be convicted as a forex dealer as the Reserve Bank of the country often buys forex from these very same ladies, and of course then it is not a crime !!!!

It was a long, long freezing night where only ten of us could lie down and the other eleven would sit, however we all swopped at most civilized intervals. It reminded me of that kiddies song I used to sing to my babes.....

There were ten in a bed And the little one said "Roll over, roll over" So they all rolled over And one fell out

However we kept each other warm, except that Memory on my left had pneumonia and Mercy on my right had what sounded suspiciously like Tuberculosis !!

Morning was a joyous affair, the guards chased us out most rudely at 6 am to count us and then chased us in again until 8 when food arrived. Now the only food one gets in a Zimbabwe prison is what the relatives bring, and so if you have no one you get no food, it is as simple as that !!

However I had already decided not to drink or eat as this would necessitate the use of the loo which was open to all to view and also I had nothing on my feet and the area around the loo was awash !!

At eight they let us out again into a small sunny pen along with the inmates from the next door cells, and I met fellow Journo Jono Clayton from the London Times, as well as an axe murderer from the cell at the end !!

Through the wire I saw the sweetest sight..... at the gate to the Central Bulawayo Police Station was HeeHoo, surrounded by a throng of folk, craning his neck to see if his wife had survived the night , waving a plastic bag of food excitedly.

No one went without,... the Haves shared with the Have Nots ....

Jonathan Clayton was most popular as his goody bag contained the items he had bought at the Johannesburg duty free shop and contained delicacies which his fellow inmates certainly did not appreciate, possibly caviar and smoked salmon !!

We were allowed to visit a tap near the over flowing dust bins in the courtyard for ablutions, after breakfast ..... and then we were instructed to throw a bucket of water at our lavatories and to hang our four blankets in the sun for ten minutes (lice apparently do not like the sun ! )

Pushed rudely back into the cells, if I had thought the night long, I found out the days were just as long.... Although I had company the sweet girls soon tired of speaking in English and I am ashamed to say my Shona and Ndebele is pretty sketchy. But as the day wore on and people came and went I learnt a lot about prison life ... the longer one's incarceration, the further one is allowed away from the stinky toilet !!

By Noon I was sitting on top of the concrete bed the very furthest corner of the cell. like the queen of the Bastille !! Most of my friends had been remanded and released except for the two "ladies of the Night" who were by now standing on the toilet looking out of the tiny barred aperture hoping to pick up some custom !!

By lunchtime my darling friends had arranged a feeding roster and Hee Hoo was bringing in tantalizing treats and delicious cups of hot steaming tea !! And so it continued for the next four days .... my favorite meals were the salmon fish cakes that Phill Macdee cooked personally and a tray of food, including a tiny vase of flowers and her best silverware, sent in my MacMish complete with a delicately fragrant butternut soup !!

5 Days and 4 nights melted into long sessions of interrogation (with no lawyer allowed to be present), where the men from the CIO (Central Intelligence Organization) and the scary men from Presidents Office joined forces with the much nicer local Law and Order detectives, to ascertain that I was not after all, really Emma Hurd from Sky News.... !!

The second, third and fourth nights HeeHoo successfully negotiated a Private En Suite Cell at Sauerstown Police Station for me where I was kept in solitary confinement but only because there were no other women in the cells ..... The poor male felons on the other side of my cell wall would bang messages on the wall to comfort me, my fists were pretty sore after a couple of days !!

Such bliss, the cell was the same size but much cleaner although the blankets were stiff with dirt, and there was a gap of about four inches broken off the bottom of the door .....

Numerous ants came in to visit me, the droves of mosquitoes were convinced that my blood was the best thing they had tasted this year and and I could lie on the floor and look out into the court yard for entertainment.

HeeHoo attempted to bring me books, loo paper and water but all were refused.....

I did not dare go to sleep sleep in case a snake or a rat or worse came in to eat me while my eyes were closed !! Solitary confinement is actually pretty scary and when one of the male guards called me "Sweetie" I nearly had a heart attack ....

HeeHoo did manage to negotiate my very own blanket for the last two nights !!

And so I languished happily on my concrete floor while HeeHoo took over the running of the house, not having to think about meals for four days was bliss !!

Poor HeeHoo however was not having such a delightfully enforced rest, he moved mountains literally to keep everyone else in our lives safe and secure.

Somehow, as only HeeHoo can do, he managed to safeguard the lives of several vulnerable people and got them into safety and away from the claws of this strange, manic, demented society in which we are forced to live at this time in Zimbabwe.

How can I ever forget the love, warmth, prayers and support the whole world has shown me and my family over the past horrid 4 weeks.

Watch out for the unabridged version of this missal after we have gone to trial ..... and hopefully these spurious charges have been dropped.

God Bless you all and thank you so much for caring for the brave and selfless folk who are trying so hard to save our country.