Zimbabwe jails : fast track to death

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Zimbabwe’s 55 jails have became death camps for inmates as a a local prisoner’s rights group says at least two inmates die everyday due to hunger and disease.

Harare Central prison and Chikurubi have been cited as such jails.

The Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender (ZACRO) said conditions in prisons across the country had deteriorated over the years with the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) out of cash to buy drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, rampant in jails because of overcrowding.

ZACRO national director Edison Chiota says the ZPS has no money to buy enough food for inmates and in some cases even failed to raise cash to pay for pauper burials for those who succumb todisease and hunger in jail.

At the two worst affected prisons – Chikurubi and Harare Central – inmates
were sometimes given only a meal a day.

Chiota said: “There is no nutritional food in all of the country’s prisons. The prisoners just eat in order to survive, especially at Harare Central prison and Chikurubi prison where the situation is worse because inmates are sometimes only given one meal a day.

“The two prisons are losing not less than two people a day and to make
matters worse the Zimbabwe Prison Service is not able to provide a proper
pauper burial for some of these prisoners.”

ZACRO is a non-governmental organisation involved in protecting the rights
of prisoners while also working to prevent crime through rehabilitation of
offenders and their re-integration into society.

Zimbabwe has 55 prisons and a survey conducted showed that this year the jails were holding a total of 35 000 prisoners, more than double their designed carrying capacity of 17 000 inmates.

An amnesty granted to some inmates by Robert Mugabe in June appeared to have had little impact on the inmate overload.

He says a cell meant for 10 prisoners is packed with no less than 40 people.

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