We need answers

We read with shocked disbelief weekend reports of prisoners surviving on only sadza and nuts. This comes in the wake of a government ban on NGOs providing food for prisoners. This diet does not meet the minimum nutritional needs of the human body. It is cruelty of the worst kind to deprive prisoners of the basic food requirements.

They are already being punished by having to serve time. Depriving them of food is inhuman. It amounts to double punishment.

It is bad enough to be in jail. It is terrible to be in jail in Zimbabwe. There is overcrowding for starters. There is also appalling hygiene. In the past we have carried reports of prisoners being given soiled uniforms. Diseases such as scurvy, pellagra, TB, diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera have been rampant in the jails – not to mention HIV/AIDS.

Beatings of prisoners by guards is common place. Many are assaulted by the police before they even get to prison. We have also published photographs of cadaverous-looking prisoners on the verge of starvation. No human being, no matter how bad he may be, should be treated like that. Where is our compassion as human beings?

Prisons in Zimbabwe have always had farms where the prisoners are set to work growing their own food. What has happened to these farms? Have they been given to some zealous Zanu (PF) official or are the senior prison officials looting the produce from them as has become the norm in our country?

The Minister of Justice has some tough questions to answer. Why did the ministry stop the International Committee of the Red Cross from supplying food to prisons at a time when the government claims to be short of funds and unable to do this for itself?

Was it because some corrupt senior official was peeved at not having been given a brown envelope? We would have thought that, under the circumstances, any help from any quarter would be gratefully accepted. We need answers please.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
  1. Wilbert Mukori
  2. Bill

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