Harare Central Prison

Harare Central Prison (HCP; named Salisbury Central Prison until 1982) is a medium-security prison for both men and women in Harare, Zimbabwe. It is operated by the Zimbabwe Prison Services, previously the Rhodesia Prison Service. It opened in 1910 during company rule in Rhodesia. The current Officer in Charge, or warden, is Never Kambizi.

Harare Central Prison
LocationHarare, Zimbabwe
Security classMedium security
(with maximum security and remand sections)
Population1,622 (2013)
Opened1910; 112 years ago (1910)
Managed byRhodesia Prison Service (before 1980)
Zimbabwe Prison Services (since 1980)
WardenNever Kambizi



Salisbury Central Prison was established in 1910 during company rule in Rhodesia, soon to become the Colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923.[1]

During the 20th-century, the prison incarcerated many black nationalists who fought white rule during the colonial period and later UDI. In addition, the prison has been used to hold political prisoners after Zimbabwe's independence.[1]

A 1973 study found that over a period of two months, 97% of admitted inmates were black Africans, and 50.6% were younger than 28.[2]


In mid-March 2009, Harare Central Prison cut prisoners' rations by 75% in response to a food shortage.[3] Two days later, the prison ran out of food completely.[3]

In 2013, two Congolese inmates, living in the remand section, who claimed to practice Satanism and thrive on human blood, caused unrest among the inmates. Prison authorities worked to find means to send the inmates back to the Congo to resolve the situation.[1]


The Harare Central Prison building was constructed in 1910. It is located just east of Harare city center. The property is bordered by the Morris Depot police training facility, a Zimbabwe National Army cantonment, the Presidential Guard compound, and Zimbabwe Republic Police headquarters. It is close in proximity to the State House and Zimbabwe House, and a short distance away from Central Intelligence Organisation employee housing and the residence of the Commissioner of Police.[1]

The prison is divided into three main sections: prison cells, remand holding cells, and a workshop. The prison was designed with a capacity of 1,470, as of 2013, it houses 1,622 inmates, and often holds up to 2,000. This overpopulation means that many cells meant to hold one inmate now hold three. Though it is a medium-security prison, there is a maximum-security section for prisoners serving life sentences. The prison houses both men and women, some together with their children.[1]

The workshop is used for rehabilitating prisoners. There, they are instructed in various fields such as auto mechanics, welding, molding, carpentry, television and radio repair, panel beating, and bookbinding. Most of the equipment and machinery in the workshop is original to the prison's founding, and some of it is nonfunctional. The prison's limited funding has prevented the purchase of new resources. In addition to the workshop, there is a school providing a primary, secondary, and tertiary education to inmates and their children. Some of the school's ten teachers are inmates themselves who have a background in education. Despite the school's limited educational resources, the Ordinary level pass rate is 69%. The prison has ablution facilities, some of which are in poor condition, and a kitchen which provides the inmates with three meals per day. Many of the prison kitchen's electric pots are not functional and some food is cooked outside using firewood. There is also a chaplain who baptizes inmates and preaches to them.[1] There is also a prison choir made up of inmates.[4]

The prison has a two-ward hospital with 13 beds. One ward serves as the tuberculosis unit, while the other is the "Multi-Disease Ward". The hospital also includes an opportunistic infection clinic, outpatient department, and a dental unit with modern equipment and full-time dental therapist. The prison suffers from a high mortality rate, a prevalence of communicable diseases, and shortages of food, clothing, and medicine.[1]

Notable inmatesEdit

Image Name Notability Details
  Simon Chimbetu Guitarist, vocalist, and composer [5]
  Kenneth Kaunda 1st President of Zambia Transferred to Lusaka Central Prison from Salisbury in 1959[6]
  Nigel Lamb British air racing pilot As a teenager, Lamb spent a night in the prison after stealing a piece of dried meat from a butcher shop[7]
  Emmerson Mnangagwa 3rd President of Zimbabwe [8]
  Robert Mugabe 1st Prime Minister, 2nd President of Zimbabwe Imprisoned at Salisbury Central Prison from 1966 to 1974[7][9]
  Didymus Mutasa 1st Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe [8]
Simon Muzenda 1st Vice-President of Zimbabwe Held at the prison for two years in the late 1950s and from 1964 to 1971[10]
Enos Nkala Founder of ZANU [8]
Maurice Nyagumbo ZANU leader and cabinet minister [8]
Ndabaningi Sithole Founder of ZANU, Bush War militant leader Spent six years in the prison in the early 1960s[11][12]
  Edgar Tekere ZANU leader and cabinet minister [8]
  Morgan Tsvangirai Former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Spent two weeks in the prison[13]
Eddison Zvobgo ZANU leader and cabinet minister Was held in the prison from October 1964 to July 1965 and from November 1965 to 1971[14]

Notable escapeesEdit

The prison has seen a number of jailbreaks.[1]

In April 1980, more than 200 remand prisoners escaped.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "A glimpse behind the grim walls of Harare Central Prison". The Zimbabwean. 2013-03-05. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  2. ^ Office, International Labour (1978). Labour conditions and discrimination in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). International Labour Off. p. 120. ISBN 9789221018520.
  3. ^ a b "Zimbabwe: Harare Central Prison has run out of food". Pambazuka News. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  4. ^ JustImagine Pictures (2017-03-21), Harare Central Prison Choir at Highlands SDA Church, retrieved 2017-12-16
  5. ^ Parade and Foto-action. Thomson Publications (Zimbabwe) (Pvt.) Limited. 1996.
  6. ^ Mwanakatwe, J. M. (1994). End of Kaunda era. Multimedia Zambia. p. 30. ISBN 9789982300650.
  7. ^ a b Lamb, Christina (2007). House of Stone: The True Story of a Family Divided in War-torn Zimbabwe. Chicago Review Press. p. 88. ISBN 9781556527357.
  8. ^ a b c d e "President Mnangangwa's early days, political career". The Sunday News. 2017-11-26. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  9. ^ Norman, Andrew (2015-03-13). Robert Mugabe and the Betrayal of Zimbabwe. McFarland. p. 62. ISBN 9781476616704.
  10. ^ Africa Research Bulletin: Political, social, and cultural series. Blackwell. 2003.
  11. ^ Sithole, Ndabaningi (1976). Letters from Salisbury Prison. Transafrica Publishers. p. 2.
  12. ^ Sithole, Vesta (2006-09-21). My Life With An Unsung Hero. Author House. p. 35. ISBN 9781467815802.
  13. ^ Hudleston, Sarah (2005). Face of Courage: A Biography of Morgan Tsvangirai. Juta and Company Ltd. p. 107. ISBN 9781770130050.
  14. ^ "Eddison Jonas Mudadirwa Zvobgo". African Nationalist Leaders - Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. 2013-01-05. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  15. ^ Sub-Saharan Africa Report. Foreign Broadcast Information Service. 1980. p. 122.