Wednesday, 24 April 2019


The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) has appealed to women organisations to assist in the establishment of a national open prison for women in Marondera.

An open prison is one where inmates are trusted to serve their sentences with minimal supervision and perimeter security and are often not locked up in their prison cells and they may be permitted to take up employment or visit their homes while serving their sentence.

Zimbabwe has one open prison, Connemara in Gweru in the Midlands Province which only caters for men. 

In an interview at the ZPCS stand at the 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo yesterday, the national spokesperson, Chief Correctional Officer Meya Khanyezi said they are lobbying for an open prison for women to balance privileges given to inmates.

“The only open prison is for men and we are saying this initiative should also cater for women. With our Government and other stakeholders calling for empowerment and equality, as ZPCS we feel without an open prison for women we won’t be achieving gender balance,” she said.

Chief Correctional Officer Khanyezi said Government has allocated a site in Marondera for establishment of the open prison. She called on women’s organisations to have input in the establishment of the institution.

“This issue is even known in parliament and Government supports the idea. However we have no resources to develop the site yet and we are calling upon organisations that advocate for women’s rights to also chip in and assist. At the end of the day such initiatives are what they are lobbying for,” she said. 

The ZPCS national spokesperson said such organisations should not sideline women who are behind bars because they are also part of society.

“Women’s organisations tend to forget inmates and they focus more on ‘free’ women but we are saying these inmates are part of society and share the same sentiments as their counterparts who are outside jail,” she said.

Chief Correctional Officer Khanyezi said it is critical to have a female open prison so that women can engage with their families and build relations.

“Women have a bond with their children so they should also be given a chance to mingle with their families. It is critical to make sure that they are given economic freedom to buy, sell and engage in any entrepreneurship programme to generate income,” she said.

She said it is the duty of every citizen to contribute either with ideas or resources on what the women’s open prison should look like.

The open prison for men was introduced in 2000 and has benefited 1 563 inmates up to date.
The Connemara men’s open prison in the Midlands province has 68 offenders though it has a capacity of 108 inmates.

“Since its inception, we only recorded 69 escapes from offenders, which shows that an open prison is effective to inmates and they are loyal to it. There are inmates who are studying at university and technical colleges through the open prisons programme,” said the ZPCS national spokesperson. Chronicle


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