Prisons chief calls for release of recovered mental health patients

By Lisa Masuku

A call has been made for the mental tribunal board to speed up its sitting in order to address the plight of recovered mental health patients, who are stuck in prison.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu made the passionate plea for the release of recovered mental health patients this Sunday when the Botswana prison service delegation led by Commissioner Dinah Marathe toured Khami Prison and Anju Prison Farm in Matabeleland North province.

He said that currently the country’s prison facilities are over packed with 800 mental health patients.

“The number of recovered mental patients who are stuck in prison is a cause for concern. Although we have a mental health board tasked with assessing them before they are released back into the community, the board that is responsible for that is doing it very slow,” he said.

Khami Prison Forensic Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse, Netsai Matindike gave a breakdown of the number of mental patients at the prison.

“Currently, over a hundred recovered mental health patients are awaiting evaluation so that they can be released,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Botswana Prisons Services Commissioner Dinah Marathe said the exchange programme has been a great learning curve for them.

“We are looking at also making use of our vast land to venture into dairy farming so that we empower our prisoners with various skills. We already running other projects like piggery, cattle farming.”

Another highlight of the Zim-Botswana exchange programme was the music serenade by one of the prison officers, the Kujatajata hit-maker, DT Bio Mudimba, who through his hit song, made it difficult for the Botswana delegation to resist his charm as they took to the dance floor.