- 7/5/2008 <--Prev : Next-->
PAVEMENT BLOCKERS AND SHOP LIFTERS
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.