Magistrate orders ZPS to provide decent clothing

In a move likely to improve the conditions for prisoners in Zimbabwe, a Harare magistrate has ordered the correctional services to ensure that prisoners are properly dressed when they appear in court.

Chikurubi Maximum Security prisoners in tattered garb.
Chikurubi Maximum Security prisoners in tattered garb.

Tendai Mahwe’s ruling followed the appearance of an MDC councillor, Antony Shangadeya, in court dressed in tattered prison garb.

Shangayedenga, 52, together with seven others – Songi Chari, 32, Veronica Chinembiri, 35, Alex Makina, 33, Nyararai Chibindu, 52, Moses Chindanga, 26, Kholwane Makina, 26 and Emmerson Makahamadze, 27 are accused of destroying property belonging to Zanu (PF) activists in Epworth.

Marufu Mandevere of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the ruling would go a long way in restoring the dignity of suspects.

“The councillor appeared in court with torn prison garb that showed his back and buttocks and we felt that this was a deliberate ploy by the correctional services to demean him as a leader from the opposition,” said Mandevere.

He said failure by ZPS to comply with the law meant that the government body would be in contempt of court.

In its case against the eight activists, state prosecutor Sharon Mashavira said the suspects were not suitable candidates for bail because of the seriousness of their offence and the possible jail term. She said the possibility of the suspects absconding was high if they were released on bail.

The MDC suspects were arrested following politically motivated violence in Epworth after a rally held by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

A report produced by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights the Law Society of Zimbabwe and the Community Law Centre at the University of Western Cape said the ZPS was notorious for its failure to provide uniforms for inmates.

“There have even been reports of prisoners sharing and taking turns to wear uniforms as a result of the severe shortage and a priority of good uniforms is given to suspects in remand prison,” says the report.

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