Khami Prison is using “plastics and cardboard box material” as doors and handcuffs as locks, a report by MPs has revealed.
The report, compiled by the Senate Thematic Committee on Human Rights, says cells at one of the country’s largest detention facilities are frequently flooded during the rainy season because of dilapidated roofing.
Prisoners also sleep on the floor because there are no beds or mattresses.
Khami Prison Complex on the outskirts of Bulawayo consists of four penitentiaries: maximum, medium, remand and the women’s prison in Mlondolozi. It holds over 2 000 of the country’s estimated 15 000 inmates.
In their report published last week, the Senators said: “The committee heard that the Zimbabwe Prison Services was failing to maintain the prison complex particularly the infrastructure.
“For example, there were no locks on some doors. Some wooden doors had been attacked by termites and were beyond repair. Plastic and cardboard box materials were used as doors.
“The ablution facilities for Khami Remand were not functional and said to be beyond repair. The situation was worsened by lack of adequate water to flush the system. All this was blamed on the unavailability of funds.
“Window panes were broken and needed to be repaired. Some roof sheets were blown away by winds resulting in rain leaking into the cells.
“The committee also heard that prisoners sleep on the floor because Zimbabwe Prison Services was unable to provide beds or mattresses.
“Within the prison, there are non-functional cells as locks were tempered with by prisoners who wanted to escape sometime in March 2011. The officer-in-charge told the committee that A Hall had 14 while B Hall had 34 non-functional cells.
“The committee also heard that Khami Remand was not allocated funds to purchase padlocks and to replace the wooden doors that were damaged by termites. The officials felt this was too risky considering that there were fifteen prisoners on life sentences at Khami Remand.”
The report said inmates were entitled to three blankets each, but had two.
The senators said Khami Maximum Hospital lacked important machinery like X-ray machines, a CD4 count machine and furniture. The prison had to outsource when a prisoner needed such services which was costly and compromised security.
Khami has an education department that teaches Grade 1 up to “A” Level and there are professional teachers and some inmates who were teachers before incarceration who assist. But the lawmakers found there was no crèche for children accompanying female inmates.
“Prisoners informed the committee that they were being served supper at 2pm and by 7pm they would be hungry,” the report added.
“On homosexuality, the committee heard that the prison had measures to control any incidents of homosexuality. The officer-in-charge informed the committee that offenders were prosecuted.”
Khami Medium sits on 2 777 hectares of farmland and has a herd of 430 dairy and range cattle.
The prison’s garden supplies vegetables to prisons in the whole Matabeleland region, but money generated from farming was said to be insufficient to purchase farm implements and stockfeed for cattle. — NewZimbabwe.com