AN international humanitarian organisation has launched a programme to rehabilitate infrastructure at Mlondolozi Mental Health Prison in Bulawayo and give the institution a new look following years of neglect by the cash-strapped government.
BY SILAS NKALA
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Zimbabwe spokesperson, Jesilyn Dendere, told Southern Eye that the refurbished buildings would be handed over to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) in March this year.
“We have been rehabilitating Mlondolozi special prison cells for the mentally ill people and we have finished the rehabilitation of the facility and we hope to hand it over to the ZPCS very soon,” Dendere said, without disclosing the cost of the project.
ICRC executive, Unita Ndou, said the cost of the rehabilitations would be disclosed at the handover ceremony.
“We are working with the ZPCS to ensure a clean and healthy environment in the prisons, and on this project we will advise of the date of the handover of the facility to the ZPCS. We have quite a number of projects we are doing, but we think this Mlondolozi one is the biggest. We also do water and sanitation programmes to access communities with health water facilities and clean sanitation facilities.”
Ndou said ICRC had agronomists, who look at the food security, particularly in prisons, to ensure adequate food supplies for prisoners.
“We are also looking at the health of the inmates and we have experts who do health check-ups on them and interview them on their living conditions. After getting the information, sometimes through inmates’ complaints, we do not just expose such issues to the public but we engage the authorities to resolve those problems.”
The organisation also provides blankets and uniforms to prisoners and recently rehabilitated Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison’s water reticulation system.
Government has often been accused of underfunding ZPCS and, thus, exposing prisoners to inhuman conditions, including shortage of food and linen.