Nyasha Mupungu Herald Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has sent 10 officers for a six-month sign language course with a view to accommodate all prisoners in line with the country’s supreme law.
In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, all State institutions are obliged to take necessary steps to ensure people with disabilities get fair treatment without any form of discrimination.
Most institutions, like the courts, now have wheelchair ramps and sign language interpreters in the spirit of inclusivity.
ZPCS recently came face-to-face with a challenge of a Chikurubi prisoner who turned deaf while in prison.
The prisoner, Kevin Pato (32), reportedly committed murder in the course of a robbery. While in remand prison, Pato lost his sense of hearing by 100 percent, which has been medically ascertained, bringing his murder trial to a halt.
ZPCS and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system are now having challenges communicating with Pato.
To that end, ZPCS spokesperson Chief Correctional Officer Meya Khanyezi said at least 10 prison officers have enrolled with Emerald Hill School of the Deaf for sign language training.
“The decision came out of the realisation that prisons accommodate inmates from various backgrounds,” she said.
“Some are able-bodied, while other are physically challenged.
“Lately, we have had inmates who have hearing impairments such that communication with them was posing challenges.
“We then resolved to have some of our officers undergo sign language training.”
CCO Khanyezi said all the inmates deserved to be accommodated, in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
She said more ZPCS officers will be sent to such institutions to ensure smooth communication between prison officers and deaf prisoners.
“We are looking forward to sending more officers for the course in our quest to equip them with the necessary skills to communicate with all prisoners and other stakeholders with hearing challenges,” she said.