Manicaland exceeds prison inmates carrying capacity

By Tamuka Charakupa

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has called for urgent action to address challenges faced by young people with an increasing number of them in prison.

This comes after a visit by the committee to Chipinge Prison Farm this Tuesday, where inmates had the opportunity to air their views on some of the issues affecting them.

“It is our wish that we are taught on the basic law at school or even here in jail because we commit some of these offences out of ignorance,” an inmate said.

“The state must have a provision to compensate some who would have been wrongly accused and get acquitted after serving time in remand because some would have lost their time and opportunities,” said another.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Officer Commanding Manicaland Province, Commissioner Sphetosomusa Chinobva spoke on the need to de-populate the prisons and improve the general welfare of inmates.

“We currently have at least 1 920 inmates in the province out of a carrying capacity of 1096. So, there is a gross mismatch which is also affecting the welfare of inmates in terms of food provision and health services. We are also facing issues of proper clothing for inmates,” Commissioner Chinobva said.

The Committee is led by Colonel (Retd) Joshua Murire who expressed concern over the huge number of young inmates.

“We are very much concerned and shocked after observing that most of the prisons we visited are populated by young people the majority whom are serving for rape charges. We should educate our youths and come up with solutions to the challenges they face to reduce the number of these young offenders. Also, inmates dressing is an issue which needs urgent attention,” he noted.

The committee is on a nationwide fact-finding mission to find solutions to the challenges being faced in the prisons and correctional facilities.