IN PRISON, cigarettes are equal to cash and they are often used as bride price for men attracted to other men, a State witness testifying against nine inmates charged with attempting to flee from prison said in Harare Monday.

Claudius Mutizwa, also a convict, said this during cross examination by prosecutor Michael Reza when he winded up his evidence.

Mutizwa’s claims come a month after he revealed that cleric Robert Martin Gumbura, who is serving 40 years for rape, smuggled 960 bricks of cigarettes into Chikurubi Maximum Prison with the help of some prison officials.

He told court that Gumbura was not a smoker and that he never saw him smoking even once.

“Gumbura became relevant because of the cigarettes he smuggled,” said the witness. “In prison, cigarettes are regarded as currency and are mainly used by homosexuals to buy favours.  You can also buy meat or bread using cigarettes in prison so cigarettes are highly important.”

Gumbura is the founder of Independent End Time Message church and was convicted after he was found guilty on several rape charges involving minors and women of his congregation.

Mutizwa said no man of god can be convicted for such cases, adding that his conclusion was that Gumbura was a heathen.

“The God that I believe in does not allow men to have sex with women without their consent. Only Satanists can do that,” he said.

Previously, Mutizwa told the court that Gumbura was the prison’s Godfather. He said the cleric supplied cigarettes, jolly juice and maputi to all prisoners, adding that some prison officials were even getting groceries.

According to Mutizwa, Gumbura did this to buy allegiance and effect the jail break. The state witness claimed that Gumbura was acting in common purpose with ex­-vice president, Joice Mujuru and former army captain and coup plotter, Albert Matapo.

Gumbura and other eight inmates are being charged with attempting to escape from lawful custody, assaulting and resisting law officers and also damaging prison property.

The nine are alleged to have incited a food riot which resulted in five inmates losing their lives early last year. The trial will continue Tuesday with the state expected to bring its second witness to testify against the nine.

Mutizwa has been testifying for over four months with at least 23 more witnesses still to take the stand.