Thursday 14 April 2022



Whawha Prison, outside Midlands province capital Gweru, has been infested by bedbugs, Southern Eye has learnt.

According to families of inmates at the jail, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the infestation has been worsened by recurrent water shortages at the correctional facility.

“I have a relative who is covered in bites following the outbreak of bedbugs,” a relative of an inmate at WhaWha Prison said.

Another relative told Southern Eye that her son complained of painful bites from lice that have infested the prison cells.

Although Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) national spokesperson Chief Superintendent Meya Khanyezi was not immediately available for comment, a prison officer at WhaWha yesterday confirmed to Southern Eye that there is bedbug infestation at the prison.

He also indicated that the prison was struggling to adequately feed the inmates and to fumigate the jail.

“We have a serious challenge of resources and we haven’t fumigated the whole jail for quite some time,” he said, however, declining to give his name because he was not authorised to comment.

“Water shortages are some of the serious problems we encounter, and given the different types of inmates we have here, hygiene issues become difficult to deal with,” he added.

Over the years, the country’s prisoners have been facing resource challenges, overcrowding, poor diet, and living in unhygienic environments as well as wearing worn out uniforms.

The country’s prisons have poor ventilation and poor sanitary conditions. The water and power supplies are erratic.

Early this month, ZPCS Commissioner-general Moses Chikobvu revealed that infrastructure at the country’s prisons was not suitable for young inmates during a visit to WhaWha Prison by a delegation from Botswana Prison Services.

A 2021 United States human rights report also decried prison conditions describing them as harsh and life-threatening due to overcrowding, food shortages, lack of water, physical mistreatment of prisoners, lack of access to personal protective equipment to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and bad sanitary conditions and poor medical care.

“Prison guards occasionally beat and abuse prisoners. non-governmental organisations (NGOs) reported the use of excessive force, but noted that prison guards did not employ excessive force systematically. Conditions in prisons, jails, and detention centres were harsh. While some prisons operated below capacity, NGOs that reported most were overcrowded due to outdated infrastructure and judicial backlogs.

“The Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS), responsible for maintaining prisons, prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration into society, did not provide adequate food, water, sanitary conditions, or personal protective equipment during the global pandemic. ZPCS sometimes allowed faith-based and community organisations to help address these problems,” the US embassy report read.

They said detainees, who were denied bail, were often held in severely overcrowded remand cells for several years, while awaiting trial. Newsday


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