Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Inmates in Zimbabwe’s Prison and Correctional Services facilities are forced to stay naked owing to inadequate supply of uniforms, legislators heard yesterday. Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender chief executive officer Mr Edson Chiota said the ZPCS was so underfunded that it was failing to procure uniforms for inmates.
Mr Chiota said this while giving oral evidence before a Senate Thematic Committee on Human Rights on the organisation’s views on the state of the country’s justice delivery system.
“There is an issue of welfare of inmates,” he said. “If people would like to make a visit, they will witness that on a number of occasions some prisoners go naked because there is inadequate resources in terms of funds sent to the prison department.
“It has become a situation where some people become uneasy when they go to prison. For example, there are sometimes when we have female officers manning male prisons and they end up seeing these inmates naked.”
Harare Metropolitan Senator Sekai Holland (MDC-T) expressed shock at the revelations.
“On the issue of naked prisoners, it is shocking that in Zimbabwe there are prisoners who are going naked,” she said. “What alliances have you made with civil society and churches to provide clothes for them?”
Bulawayo Metropolitan Senator Agnes Sibanda (MDC-T) asked if it was not feasible to allow inmates to put on their own clothes instead of prison garb.
Mr Chiota said the situation was more dire in remotely located prisons. He said members could confirm this by paying unscheduled visits to prisons.
He said they were working with churches and well-wishers to mitigate the situation.
ZPCS spokesperson Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Banda said the situation with regards to uniforms was bad.
She, however, disagreed on the use of the word “naked” in describing the conditions of inmates.
“I would say some of their clothes are torn and sometimes they put on jerseys to cover their torn clothes,”she said.
“It is also not true that there are male prison officers manning female prisoners, but we sometimes have female prison officers working in male prisons just doing administrative and clerical work.”
Mr Chiota said there was need to train judicial officers on other forms of sentencing offenders instead of committing them to prison to decongest the prison population.
He said there was need to address the plight of mothers incarcerated with their babies.