BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
ZIMBABWE yesterday officially opened its first female open prison in Marondera, a development described as a milestone for the country in terms of improving the conditions of female inmates.
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa who presided over the ground-breaking ceremony, hailed the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) for modernising its prisons.
The First Lady is also the Zimbabwe Female Open Prison Foundation Trust patron.
“I give credit to the government of Zimbabwe for approving the establishment of the female open prison. It is meant to meet the special needs of female inmates as well as serving as a vehicle for their rehabilitation, reintegration and empowerment to enhance their livelihoods after imprisonment.
“ZPCS has moved from the punitive way to a correctional thrust, a correctional approach, a dismissal from punishment. This signifies the observance of rights of inmates as well as empowering them with knowledge and life skills which are focused on helping them prepare for a decent life upon discharge,” she said.
The open prison system allows prisoners to complete their sentences with minimal supervision in a fenced environment, and are often not locked up in cells. They can also take up employment while serving their terms.
Zimbabwe approved the concept of an prison open system in 1996 with the late former President Canaan Banana being the first inmate to occupy the Connemara Open Prison in Kwekwe in 2000.
The Marondera Open Prison was funded by well-wishers, among them politicians and corporates.
ZPCS Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu said the new facility needed more assistance.
“To those who are yet to join hands with us, I also appeal to you to provoke your thoughts to play your part and make a difference in the lives of this disadvantaged group. Indeed together we can realise their potential and assist them to desist from their criminal behaviours,” Chihobvu said.
He said there were about 20 000 inmates across the country’s prisons, of which only 500 were females.
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