Improve Zim's prison conditions

EDITOR — The deadly mutiny which rocked Harare’s maximum security prison is a reflection of the cry of prisoners to have their living conditions improved.

Various stakeholders including the Church, human rights organisations and civil society have expressed their concerns on  the huge influx of inmates as well as the poor diet which allegedly was the issue behind the recent riots at the correctional facility.

Statements in the media indicate that the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services was struggling to feed inmates the recommended diet for a while.

The question is, who is to blame? Is it the courts, offenders or indeed the prison authorities themselves?

Hunger can push a man to the limit, so they say, an hungry man is an angry man. The violence that erupted on Friday the 13th is a clear indication that conditions in the country’s prisons are deplorable.

Prison congestion is a paradox and should be addressed forthwith. We are all potential prisoners, regardless of one’s standing in society.

You never know when you might go there.

I think it is high time that legislation was passed to lessen custodial sentences and substitute them with community service especially for lesser offences.

House arrests are another option for certain offences.

Over-crowding in prisons means that prisoners are susceptible to various diseases like tuberculosis, scurvy or malnutrition and so on.

We need a pragmatic approach to solve this problem.

I would like to encourage the Church to continue the wonderful work of providing prisoners with basics. My heartfelt gratitude goes to Prophetess Ruth Makandiwa, wife to United Family International Church leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa for donating goods worth $8 000 to female prisoners.

Last Christmas, prisoners received a lot of goodies like nappies, blankets clothing, soap, toiletries etc. Tears from the eyes of prisoners were an indication of the joy of being remembered as some by virtue of being in prison, have become outcasts in society. The Makandiwas have shown a kind of love which has no boundaries.

Now that blankets and other things were destroyed by the inferno at Chikurubi, it means that the conditions which were already bad are now worse.

Can you imagine that with winter approaching, some of the inmates will be without blankets.

May the souls of those who died during the food riots rest in peace.

B. Saunyama,

Harare

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