Bright Zhantali, the man suspected of being Zimbabwe’s most notorious serial killer, is one of the 465 prisoners admitted to the psychiatric unit of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison who are undergoing clinical management or medical evaluation to ascertain the state of their mental health.
During a year-long reign of terror that included Marondera, Goromonzi, Rusape, Mutare, and Macheke, Zhantali is accused of raping and killing 23 women.
The alleged serial killer is believed to have admitted to the majority of the killings and has even hinted that he may have killed more people. He is from the Dandamera Township in Concession, Mashonaland Central Province.
Seven murders that occurred between January and March of last year are allegedly the work of this man.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail, Chikurubi prison psychiatrist, Chief Superintendent Christopher Njanjeni, said:
“Yes, I can confirm that Zhantali is in the Chikurubi psychiatric unit, undergoing observation and treatment.
“We currently have 465 mental patients in our psychiatric unit against a carrying capacity of 150 patients.
“We have two categories of psychiatric patients — criminal mental patients and detained mental patients.
“Currently, we have a total of 465 mental patients, of which 408 are CMPs and 57 are DMPs.”
He said inmates were only committed to the unit on the orders of a magistrate.
“These people are there for medical investigations after a special ruling by a magistrate when an accused person starts to develop signs of mental illness.
“When a prisoner starts showing signs of mental health problems, the officer-in-charge of the prison reports the case to the nearest magistrate.
“A special board of professionals will then sit to determine whether the patient can be confirmed to be mentally disturbed, in consultation with professional psychiatric medical practitioners.”
He said the inmates are under the care of specially trained security officers.
“On treatment, our manual is the Mental Health Act, which dictates how mental patients are treated, in line with national and international guidelines.
“We have officers who provide physical security and medical staff, who are involved in the management and dispensing of treatment drugs.
“We also have psychologists, who continuously monitor and provide psychological support to the patients.”
The unit, he said, was presently beset by a range of challenges, including inadequate accommodation and clothing for inmates, as well as power outages.