By A Correspondent- The Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS), accused of showing favour to incarcerated ex-Cabinet ministers and other public figures by separating them from other inmates and offering them special treatment, has defended its position saying the practice is meant to protect them against violence and harassment.
Speaking during an all-stakeholder anti-graft Indaba organised by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) in Harare recently, ZPCS Deputy Commissioner-General Christine Manhivi said such public figures were prone to abuse and harassment in the cells.
Recently, there was a public outcry after reports filtered that a former Cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira arrested for corruption-related charges was offered five-star treatment in remand prison.
Reports also made rounds that some prison officers had developed relationships with inmates to an extent of allowing them to be intimate with their partners in solitary cells while serving.
Other inmates were reportedly seen attending family funerals when they are expected to be in prison.
Deputy Comm-Gen Manhivi said prisoners are classified differently and ministers and other public figures fall under the class of those who need protection by removal from others.
She said the treatment of such inmates is not a favour, but ZPCS protects them in terms of the law.
“We have different classes of inmates who, all need protection in terms of the law. All of us are potential prisoners and we must protect inmates as required by the law.
“Ministers and other public figures are prone to verbal and physical abuse when in custody by some angry inmates.
“Recently a female minister who was in remand prison was harassed and threatened with violence by some inmates who accused of failing to build proper cells while in Government.
“We had to remove her and place her in a different cell as a way of protecting her from attack,” she said.
Deputy Comm-Gen Manhivi said the isolation of the minister is not a favour, but ZPCS simply acts in terms of the law.
“That is neither favour nor preferential treatment at all. It’s not about giving them preferential treatment, but it’s a matter of classes.
“We simply separate them from the violent ones in terms of the law,” she said.