Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS)deputy commissioner-general Agrey Machingauta has pleaded with Parliament to urge government to support farm prisons with irrigation schemes in order to avoid food riots.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Machingauta said the food situation had slightly improved and prisoners were now eating relish prepared with cooking oil donated by Zimra from goods confiscated at border posts. He said the diet, however, was mainly made up of vegetables and beans.
Machingauta said this on Monday before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs chaired by Bubi MP Clifford Sibanda (Zanu PF).
“We have up to 24 prison farms, but only six are productive, and we used to have underground irrigation, but unfortunately it was vandalised and there is now need for Treasury to support us so that we resuscitate the irrigation schemes,” he said.
“We have a dietary scale that was approved by Parliament, but it was not followed due to inadequacy of funds and it included tea with a piece of bread for breakfast, sadza and meat with vegetables two times per week, which is alternated with beans.”
Machingauta said instead they were feeding prisoners with porridge, sadza with vegetables and beans continuously — and most times without cooking oil.
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) questioned Machingauta why the hardcore “D” class prisoners were not made to work like other prisoners in “C”, “B”and “A”class sections. He said the prisoners were just being fed and lazing around prison premises.
But, Machingauta said it would be unsafe for the ZPCS to let the most dangerous “D” class prisoners work at farms and other places because they were the type that had the potential to attack if they were exposed to tools like screw drivers or other equipment.
Musikavanhu MP Prosper Mutseyami (MDC-T) also questioned Machingauta over mixing of mentally ill prisoners with mentally sound ones saying it was causing sleepless nights to other prisoners.
“Some ‘D’ class prisoners have to share accommodation with mentally ill prisoners who sing and make noise all night. There is also contravention of human rights where prisoners are undressed by prison guards while other prisoners are watching,” Mutseyami said.
Machingauta said due to stiff sentencing by the courts where people were now slapped with several years in prison, the “D” section was now very overcrowded making it difficult to separate mentally ill prisoners from others.
“However, we have since taught prison guards that they should follow human rights principles and avoid undressing prisoners in front of others when effecting searches,” he said.
On sanitary wear, he said female prisoners were now adequately provided for to the extent Chikurubi Maximum Security prison had extras that could be donated to other prisons.