Govt must build more prisons: Forum

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Tarisai Machakaire

STAFF WRITER

machakairet@dailynews.co.zw

ZIMBABWE Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) has demanded that the government builds more prison facilities to ease congestion and curb the spread of communicable diseases.

In a High Court application, the Forum and Taurai Mbewe cited Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Vice President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube as respondents.

They want Ncube ordered to immediately release funds for the acquisition and construction of additional prison and correctional facilities that would permit social distancing.

They further want him to authorise the release of funds to finance all additional necessary expenditures, specifically including acquisition of personal protective clothing, daily supply of water, purchase of medical supplies, and acquisition of additional motor vehicles for the transportation of prisoners.

Mbewe has been detained at Harare Remand Prison since June 20 on unlawful entry charges and complained that inmates are packed into prison trucks when being taken to and from the courts.

“When we are transported to court, the congestion in the prison truck is excessive.

“There can be as many as 50 to 60 inmates in that truck whose ventilation is poor and whose carrying capacity is well below those high numbers,” Mbewe said.

“The section where I am detained, which is generally reserved for class C inmates is extremely over-crowded, with approximately 50 to 55 inmates when, as I see it, that part of the prison is designed for 20 to 30 inmates.”

Mbewe said the medical facilities were ill-resourced and spoke of how he was made to drink water after complaining of stomach pains.

He said the diet was poor and the cells dirty amid water shortages that made it difficult to contain the spread of the killer Covid-19 pandemic.

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