By- Prison officers at the country’s maximum-security Prison, Chikurubi, have said that the correctional service centre’s infrastructure was falling apart due to lack of maintenance.
The government uses Chikurubi to detain opposition supporters or officials arrested for challenging the status quo.
Several opposition members have spent months at Chikurubi Prison on trumped-up charges.
Prison officers said the prison was poorly resourced and could not adequately accommodate female inmates with minor children.
This week, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services correctional officer Christmas Tarwira pleaded with members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice to pressure government to rehabilitate the outdated infrastructure at the female section.
“The infrastructure that you see is very old, this is one of the oldest prisons in Zimbabwe, and the infrastructure is not able to accommodate children. Due to lack of resources and poor infrastructure, there is not (much) we can do,” Tarwira said.
“The place we use as a psychiatric centre is very old; it does not have facilities suitable for psychiatric patients. The infrastructure is so old and not suitable for what we are doing. We also need something with modern specifications that would cater for everyone. If we had resources we would separate inmates — those that are convicted and those not convicted would stay in separate cells,” he added.
Acting officer-in-charge Stella Katiyowo said: “We also have a challenge with our kitchen as we are using a makeshift kitchen. The electric stoves are no longer working, and so we moved away and we are now using firewood which is a challenge especially when it’s raining. This forces us to have lunch and supper at once.
“The sewer system is also dilapidated and sometimes prisoners use the manual method to scoop out sewage water, but it is not safe.”
On projects for the inmates, Katiyowo said female prisoners underwent cutting and design training, but the courses were being threatened by lack of funds.
“Our security fence is old which makes it easy for prisoners to escape,” Katiyowo added.
ZPCS officer commanding Harare Metropolitan Gilbert Marange said: “We are getting very little funding. We received $30 million to cater for all prisons in Harare metropolitan province, and if we are to purchase fence for this prison, it may not be enough.”