LEGISLATORS last Thursday demanded that dehumanising prison practices that reduced prisoners to lower human beings must be stopped forthwith.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Demands for prison officers to stop dehumanising treatment on prisoners were made by MPs in the National Assembly during debate on a motion on the second report of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence on the attempted jail break from Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
Pelandaba-Mpopoma MP Joseph Tshuma said some of the dehumanising treatment that prisoners went through included being made to kneel or lie down by prison wardens.
“I have always wondered why prisoners are made to kneel or lie down by prison wardens, and why are they treating people as if they are nothing?” Tshuma asked.
“This has psychological effects and people will end up wanting to revolt against that system. It is imperative that the authorities of prisons are shown and taught that prisoners are normal human beings.”
Tshuma alleged 75% of prisoners might be innocent and booked into prisons for crimes they did not know, adding it was important for prison wardens to treat people in a humane manner as everybody was a candidate for prison.
MDC legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said another callous prison practice was placing a toilet inside a prison cell where prisoners relieved themselves without privacy.
“I was arrested and put in a cell for four days and I know how difficult it was for me to be told as a woman in a cell to go there, urinate, and do everything when everybody is watching you. Why would anybody think of dehumanising a person to the level where they literally have to relieve themselves with everybody looking at them?” Misihairabwi-Mushonga also queried.
“For four days I could not do it. My system just clamped up because I just could not understand how I could go there and do it. I then told myself not to eat because nothing would then come out of my system.”
She added it was unbelievable that after independence people were still subjected to dehumanising conditions.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said in independent Zimbabwe, archaic and dehumanising Rhodesian tactics used to humiliate prisoners should be stopped.