Blantyre, Malawi, March 25 (MaraviPost) _ Mystery surrounds the death of an inmate at Zomba Maximum Prison in Malawi’s eastern city of Zomba Tuesday with fellow inmates claiming he was shot twice by prison warders while prison authorities suggest the runaway serial burglar tumbled to his death as he tried to scale a tall wall.

Two inmates have been texting recounting a series of events that led to the inmate’s death.

“A certain guy by the name of Masa (Masauko) attempted to escape from the CC (Condemned Cell) Section,” texted one inmates. “He was caught immediately before any distance and got shot.”

This prisoner, doing time for a series of armed robbery, said the inmate was alone in his cell when he plotted the escape. Another inmate corroborated this line of events.

“Mwa akaidi omwe anatsekeredwa ku CC mmodzi wathawa chamm’ma 8 zausiku koma amuombera atamugwira kale,” he wrote in Malawi lingua franca, Chichewa, stating that one of the inmates in the CC Section attempted a jailbreak at around 8 o’clock (Monday night) but was shot after he had already been recaptured.

The two inmates, texting from separate cells at the facility – also known as Zomba Central Prison, said after two shots rung out they glued their eyes and ears to cracks on cell doors. They both separately claimed they witnessed a commotion at the gate. They later, according to them, heard from ‘friendly warders’ that an inmates from the CC Section was shot while attempting to flee and was being taken to Zomba General Hospital.

The two inmates identified the deceased as Masauko Banda, a well-known armed robber in the commercial capital, Blantyre.

When contacted for an official version of what had transpired, Malawi Prison Service spokesman Evance Phiri, while confirming a prisoner had indeed died at the facility while attempting to flee, he denied suggestions that he was shot.

“He broke his cell door and attempted to scale a very tall prison wall. He tumbled down. He might have fallen on his head. He died at the hospital,” he said.

Phiri described Masauko Banda as a serial burglar and armed robber who was doing a combined 37-year jail term at the penitentiary.

“He had multiple cases of armed robbery and burglary,” he said.

The prison publicist said this was not the first time Banda to flee from lawful custody. He said he earlier successfully fled the facility but was re-arrested at Bvumbwe Trading Centre in the southern tea-growing district of Thyolo, some 30 kilometres from Blantyre.

One of the fellow inmates who texted about the death corroborated this, saying when Banda was re-arrested he was sent to Chichiri Prison but was transferred back to Zomba Maximum Prison.

“Actually he was sent to the CC Section (meant for inmates on death roll) as punishment for his jailbreak,” he said.-maravipost


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