The Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) has instituted investigations into allegations that officers at Hwange Prison stole food meant for inmates, NewsDay can reveal.
The food had been donated by well-wishers including Hwange Colliery Company.
ZPS acting national spokesperson Chief Prison Officer Priscilla Mthembo said the institution had launched a probe into the alleged misappropriation of the food allocations.
“We have launched investigations into the matter to come up with the truth,” she said.
“Anyone who will be found on the wrong side of the law will be disciplined.”
An ex-inmate at Hwange Prison spilled the beans on the alleged scam two weeks ago.
He said most of the donated food did not find its way to the rumbling stomachs of the hungry convicts, but to the homes of unscrupulous prison officers.
The ex-prisoner said prison was a “living hell” where inmates were always hungry as the officers “looted” their food.
“There was a time when well-wishers donated groundnuts to feed prisoners and avert malnutrition spreading in prisons. These groundnuts never reached us,” he said.
Instead, the ex-prisoner said, the groundnuts were taken by prison guards allegedly on the directive of senior officers and were ground into peanut butter.
“The peanut butter was then sold to those inmates who had money in their lockers. Those who did not have money never tasted anything. All this is happening with the knowledge of the officer (name supplied) because all the food is handed over to him,” said the ex-prisoner.
He alleged the looting took place on September 26, the World Prisons Day, when an assortment of foodstuffs was donated.
“Hwange Colliery donated food for the event, but everything they brought simply disappeared. This was despite the fact that all the donations were made during our presence and inmates were the ones who were made to carry them away for storage.
The same thing happened to the food which came from Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church in Hwange,” he said.
The ex-inmate said Khami Prison donated a beast for the function, but they did not consume the meat.
“A beast was donated by Khami Prison for the commemorations, but the inmates did not get even a piece of it,” he said.
“If you don’t have relatives who visit you regularly you rot in remand cells,” said the ex-prisoner.
“Every time you will be told that the vehicle is full and you will never find a chance to stand before a magistrate. Most of those who are remanded in absentia are victims of this practice.”
Hwange Colliery Company corporate advisor to the managing director Burzil Dube confirmed donating food for the event.
“We donated drinks and bread for the commemorations. However, it is our policy that we don’t follow up on donations to see how they were used. The issue remains in the hands of prison authorities,” said Dube.
The SDA Hwange overall pastor, identified as Pastor Sibanda, also confirmed his congregation donated food to the prison, although he said he was not part of the delegation that handed it over.
“We usually have monthly donations to the prison.
However, on this donation I was not there when it was handed over. I will check with the delegation which went there and see what was donated,” said Sibanda.