15 May 2012

NZ photographer says African jail experience hell

10:53 am on 15 May 2012

A New Zealand-born photojournalist has described the time he spent in an African jail as "hell".

Robin Hammond, who is based in Britain, was photographing the flow of refugees from Zimbabwe into South Africa on 16 April this year when he was detained by police and interrogated for four days.

Mr Hammond says he was eventually arrested for being in breach of the Zimbabwean Immigration Act as police deemed that he was illegally working while on a holiday visa.

He told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday he spent 25 days in prison in unsanitary conditions in a cell with 38 other men under violent and often drunk prison guards and police officers.

Mr Hammond says he was threatened with violence to admit he was a journalist, but maintained that he was simply on holiday.

He described the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe as some of the worst in the world and says inmates are subjected to filthy conditions and brutal beatings.

Mr Hammond says he survived by friends bringing him food.