Tuesday, 13 February 2018

3000 PRISONERS TO BE FREED

Government intends to release about 3 000 inmates and de-congest prison population as reports of crowding and attendant malnutrition have seen more than 578 inmates needing urgent medical attention.

It is understood that 17 inmates are presently affected by Pellagra — a disease caused by deficiency of some nutrients, particularly Vitamin B3 — and are in need of immediate attention.

In an address at the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs’ Strategic Plan Review workshop here yesterday, Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Government intends to reduce the prison population by the end of the year.

“The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) is also supposed to decongest prisons by 13 percent (2 560 prisoners),” Minister Ziyambi said.


“ZPCS is committed to decongesting our prisons by ensuring that we appeal to His Excellency to pardon some of the inmates to ensure that our prison population is reduced.”
At least $16,5 million is needed to improve the welfare of prisoners in Zimbabwe, while a further $8 million is needed to manage the prisons this year.

ZPCS is targeting to meet at least 50 percent of the inmates’ dietary needs by end of 2018 at a cost of about $13 million. Prison authorities also want to be able to feed the more than 19 500 inmates in its prisons.

The issue of prison inmates and their conditions took centre stage during discussions, with Prosecutor-General Advocate  Ray Goba calling for a review of the present sentencing regime in order to manage the number of people who are sent behind bars.

“These are issues we discuss every day and it is true that the situation in our prisons is catastrophic to say the least and perhaps now that you are here Chief Justice, it may be an indicator to you that we should seriously look at our sentencing policy, because really it could be that we are sending people to prisons to die,” Mr Goba said.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza said most of the prisoners come to prison with their own health conditions and Government is left with no option, but to intervene and ensure that they are rehabilitated and treated.

In his presentation, ZPCS Senior Assistant Commissioner Ms Spetosomusa Chinobva said the situation in prisons needs urgent attention.

“Among our goals is to improve the welfare of prisoners from 35 percent to 85 percent by 2018. The first objective is to feed 19 500 inmates with a dietary scale of 50 percent by December 31, 2018,” she said.

“We also want to clothe all inmates with at least one set of two uniforms by end of year. We also want to place at least 578 malnourished and 17 Pellagra inmates on treatment by 31 July 2018.”

At least $200 000 is needed to procure drugs and ensure that the affected inmates are treated, she said. Responding to concerns raised, Minister Ziyambi said the workshop seeks to find ways to circumvent economic challenges affecting the country.

“As a country, we have challenges and prisons will not be spared. But the purpose of this strategic workshop is to see how best we can utilise the available resources, think outside the box to improve the conditions in prisons.

“It should show that we are working towards addressing the situation,” he said. Government, he said, is looking at ways of capacitating ZPCS to be able to provide some of its requirements without waiting for budgetary allocations.

The meeting was also attended by Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Zimbabwe Republic Police Deputy Commissioner-General Josephine Shambare and officials from the Justice ministry. Herald

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