ACCOUNT OF ‘WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT’
Concrete cage, into which Stewart was placed in 'Investor Friendly' Tanzania
Stewart Middleton was man handled from the Moshi courthouse late in the afternoon when all witnesses had disappeared from the courthouse and surrounding area. When the police knew, no one was around to witness the events. The prosecutor was Inspector Janeth from the Moshi Police. The same police officer that subsequently placed in charge of court cases brought against Mr. Middleton, his wife Sarah Hermitage and his staff on charges laid by Benjamin Mengi and his wife Millie Mille Mengi. The Regional Crime Officer Kighondo and Regional Police Commander, Tossi had been told of her continues legally abusive conduct but nothing had been done to stop it.
In July 2006, Inspector Janeth had arrested Stewart Middleton and his Technical Manager Abel Ng’oja and placed them before a court to answer charges she had simply made up and written on the charge sheet. The charges on the sheet that do not exist under the Penal Code of Tanzania. The Moshi police were simply out of control.
The court was not interested in anything Middleton had to say and no evidence was deduced at the appearance. Stewart had not been formally arrested charged or cautioned. The charge sheet had already been prepared but he did not have sight of it. He was told he was accused of breaching a civil court order. No evidence was placed before the court of the breach of the civil order. The magistrate was Magistrate Temu. Bail was refused. Under the Penal Code, a person has a right to Bail unless there are any reasons why they should not be granted. The prosecutor stated that he had a ‘history’ of failing to comply with court orders but no evidence of this was given.
Middleton was bundled into the back of the police land rover that was waiting outside the court on his arrival. In the vehicle were police armed with handguns and AK machine guns. It was a foregone conclusion that he was going to prison.
Middleton was then taken to Karanga prison Moshi and this is a report of his experience from that point:-
I was escorted to the main gate by armed police. All of my possessions were taken from me including my glasses. I was then taken to another room and asked to wait. I was asked to strip to my underpants and my shoes were taken from me. I was then marched to another open area where some 3,000 remand prisoners were seated on the ground. As soon as they saw me approach the noise of the screams of Masungu ‘foreigner’ was deafening.
I could see that some of the prisoners were being beaten. Other prisoners that appeared to be operating in a quasi-official status as assistant guards were carrying out the beatings. They used long straps to beat the prisoners whilst instructions were shouted at them. I was of course unashamedly terrified, as at this point I did not know what was going to happen to me.
The cage is approximately twelve feet by twelve feet square. The rear and side walls are made of concrete and are windowless. The front wall is concrete up to around five feet and then metal barred from there to the roof allowing the prisoners to stand and look out from the cage. There is a small toilet built to the side and access to it from inside the cage.
On arrival at the cage, I was removed from the Bedford lorry and placed inside the cage with the other prisoners. I went to the rear and stood with my back against the wall. Two of my farm staff had attended to give me support. My cook had also come to bring me food. I was too frightened and sick with tiredness to eat. I could see the other prisoners become restless and I knew what was going to happen. When Able was placed in the cage, I was outside one day when I saw the police bringing another prisoner from the magistrate’s court. I heard them say to the prisoner that was being placed inside the cage that a police ‘informer’ was inside. When the prisoner was inside the cage, unrest began and they began to severely beat Able my Manager.
Unrest began inside of the cage, the prisoners began to shuffle around me and I suspected there was a beating in store. My manager secured my release from the cage (by bribing the prison guards outside). I was placed under a tree to sit outside the High Court. Some minutes the Regional Crime Officer Kighondo arrived at the cage. He became angry with the police officers on duty at the cage shouting at them ‘what is this Masungu doing outside of the cage, he is a common criminal, put him back in’. I was thus once again, placed back in the cage.
Some minutes later, a man was brought into the cage. He was well dressed and appeared not to be a prisoner. He came into the cage and dragged one of the prisoners into the toilet inside the cage. Some minuets later the prisoner came out of the toilet, visibly shaken and shocked and smelling strongly of excrement. I then began to notice a strong smell on Cannabis in the cage and noticed that several of the prisoners were smoking cannabis cigarettes. Drugs were openly sold to prisoners in he cage by men seling wares from the straw baskets. They had t have a mans oftransportin thedrugs back to Karangaprison.
''I was placed in the infirmary. The infirmary consisted of some 50 people. There was no toilet and no washing facilities save for ahole in the ground and a tap in asmall room next to the infirmary. I was given no soap no toothbrush by the staff. There was a Kenyan prisoner in the bed beside me. He had been arrested at the hands of the same officer, RCO, Kighondo in Mozambique for a bank robbery some months before. He states he was innocent. This good man, now dead having died in prison some three months after my release, managed to obtain a toothbrush for me and a bucket for me to wash in. He held prayers for me with the other prisoners each night. The lights were never turned off in he room and the seconds seemed like hours. One man in there was paralyzed from the waist down and he was carried everywhere by the other prisoners in the Infirmary. I was told he his back had been broken.
At the end of the prison yard was a wall. In this wall were cemented four metal rings. They were placed in a square on the wall. The top row being about seven feet from the ground the bottom some two feet from the ground. As I lay on my bed, I saw the prison militia, drag a prisoner, beating him all the way to the metal rings. He was placed face to the wall. His right leg was lifted and roped to the left hand top ring being some seven feet from the ground. His right hand was tied by rope to the bottom left hand ring. He was left there being beaten occasionally from around midday, to six in the evening when he was taken away screaming and being beaten once again.
I remained in prison for three days. The Moshi High Court stated they could not hear an application for my release sooner as they had ‘lost the file’. On the second day I was herded to the Moshi High court in the prison Bedford van, placed in the 'cage' only to be told my case could notbe addressed as the magistrates court 'had lost the file'.
On the day of my release, I was taken like a common criminal aain in the filthy Bedford lorry with other prisoners to the High Court in Moshi. I knew, on arrival I was going again going to be placed in what we referred to as ‘the cage’. I had previous experience of the cage when my Tanzanian Manager Able Ng’oja was committed to prison unlawfully for two weeks. Able had been placed in the cage for five days in a row awaiting release''.
Before the court, I was immediately released. The prosecutor stating my arrest was a travesty of justice and the High Court Judge stating there was no evidence whatsoever that I had a history of breaching any court orders and that the Magistrates Temu, was not free from bias ad should not have been overseeing the committal proceedings as she was the onewho had issued the order. The public prosecutor offered no evidence .
The Tanzanian Government has never offered me an apology.
On the day of my arrest, police surrounded my home. I was placed inside the police vehicle; one of the officers immediately telephoned Benjamin Mengi and stated ‘we have got him’. One of the police officers was using Benjamin Mengi’s vehicle.''