Thursday 2 November 2017


OVER 200 mentally-challenged inmates are held up at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison due to failure by the Mental Health Review Board to sit and determine their fate for the past three years.

Briefing parliamentarians during a tour of the institution yesterday, director of psychiatry Patrick Mhaka said at least 257 patients were detained at the prison complex which had a carrying capacity of 150 inmates.

Mhaka said of the 257 inmates, 93 were detained mental patients whose discharge is subject to approval by the board. But the board members have not held any meetings over the past three years amid allegations that they were demanding sitting allowances.

“We can’t release patients under DMP (detained mental patients) without the approval of the board. It is the board that should certify that this patient is now okay and ready for admission by society,” he said.

Due to failure by the board to sit among other challenges, Chikurubi is over-crowded with 2 675 inmates, against a carrying capacity of 1 360.

Mhaka said of the 257 mental patients, 160 were convicted criminals serving various terms while four were civil inmates detained at the behest of their relatives for various misdeeds that would have been caused by their mental health problems.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services deputy Commissioner-General (Administration) Alfred Dube said Health minister David Parirenyatwa had appointed the review board, but it has not held any meeting due to lack of sitting allowances.

“We appeal to you that you take this matter up. We have a number of inmates here who are ready to be discharged but we can’t because there is no board. We understand that this is because of lack of sitting allowances. This has to be sorted out because it is affecting us in terms of the holding capacity,” Dube said.

The parliamentary committees also toured the health facilities at the prison, with key focus on HIV and Aids treatment which is partly funded by the National Aids Council.

The MPs drawn from the Senate and the National Assembly were told by prison authorities that 487 inmates are on Anti-Retroviral Therapy.

Nobert Chomurenga, Officer-in-Charge at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison told MPs that due to overcrowding, inmates were exposed to health challenges such as tuberculosis and other related diseases. Newsday


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