Mothers in prison: minors pay for the sins of their parents

By Theophilus Chuma

Being restricted in prison at a tender age is not the kind of upbringing any child would wish for.

However, this is the reality that children held in confinement with their parents serving prison sentences at Chikurubi Female Prison face.

At first glance, they appear like every other child… energetic and bubbly as expected of their young age, except that they live under maximum security in a prison set up where their mothers are serving prison sentences.

If prison life can break adults, the impact on these young lives can be devastating.

From witnessing violent behaviour to foul language… jail is not a safe place for these innocent souls.

It is a double tragedy for the mothers – paying a price for their wrongdoing, and having to bear the burden of seeing their children suffering through a process which they have no control over.

We further probed this issue with the authorities at Chikubi Female Prison.

Chief Correctional Officer Stella Tokowoyo – 2nd in Charge at Chikurubi Female Prison said: “The challenge comes for those that are over two years because we have hard core criminals they don’t change. The language is not conducive to these youngsters. It is very easy for kids to pick bad language. We don’t have separate houses for the older boys. He may be 9, 10 or 15. He is exposed to some inmates who walk around half naked or even naked.”

Even though they find time for small games with their parents, this is joy is short lived.

By 4pm they are already preparing to go to bed and will have to wait for 17 hours before they can go out and play again.