The Director of the Female Prisoners Support Trust (FPST), Rita Nyamupinga, made the revelations in an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean.
The FPST lobbies for improved prison conditions for female inmates and provides counselling services during and after incarceration. After prisoners are released, the FPST works to ensure that the ex-convicts are re-integrated into society.
“We prepare packages for the prisoners when they come out, so that they will be able to get a starting point,” said Nyamupinga. These include groceries as well as finance to start small businesses.
“We also offer them temporary accommodation, but the challenge is that we have not been able to secure funding for the past year and that has affected our work to such an extent that we have limited prison visits that we should be doing regularly,” she added.
She said that, as a result, FPST has had to rely on donations from other organisations that look after the welfare of women.
“We have to rely on other organisations such as the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers’ Association, which has of late been assisting us with transport whenever we want to travel out of Harare. We have also received assistance from other organisations like Msasa project, which has enabled us to buy clothes for the babies of female prisoners, but the challenges are many because we have so much that has to be done.”
Nyamupinga expressed concern over high levels of discrimination against former prisoners in society.
“Sometimes we encounter serious challenges because there are certain cases whereby the family of the former prisoner isn’t willing to accept her back. That has a serious effect on the former prisoner and defeats the whole process of rehabilitating her,” she explained.
“Sometimes, they are forced to resort to crime again because no-one is willing to accept them back and assist them.”
On the topic of the conditions in the country’s prisons, Nyamupinga said: “They have improved compared to the past, but there are still concerns about overcrowding in the prisons. We are talking to the responsible authorities so that the issue can be rectified.”Post published in: News