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Prison officers protest over poor working conditions

Local News
Sources privy to the development said the situation got out of hand when the officers were served with a poorly-prepared meal for dinner.


About 400 Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) officers undergoing different specialist training at Ntabazinduna in Matabeleland North province reportedly staged a protest on Monday over poor quality of food.

Sources privy to the development said the situation got out of hand when the officers were served with a poorly-prepared meal for dinner.

What irked them most was that they were denied the right to buy own food, with authorities citing COVID-19 restrictions.

“There is no food here. The little that we get is poorly cooked, yet they don’t allow us to go out of the schoolyard to buy supplementary food. Their canteen is empty,” one of the prison guards, who requested anonymity, said.

Tension also rose when the trainees were forced to buy a simple T-shirt for $1 600 and a tracksuit for $4 500.

Insiders said a meeting held on Monday afternoon failed to resolve the uniform issue as the trainees insisted that they didn’t have enough money to buy training uniforms because they were poorly paid.

“We don’t have money to buy our training uniforms. The institution should provide us with uniforms. Besides, sportswear is a project run by senior officers’ spouses in the region,” on trainee charged.

The training is for three months and there are three training categories that include police training and security drawn from serving members.

Contacted for comment, acting Commandant at Ntabazinduna Prisons Training School Chief Superintendent Priscilla Mthembo denied that there were protests at the depot.

“As a training school for ZPCS, our trainees, correctional officers will never participate in any demonstration of any nature,” Mthembo said. “We offer a two-way communication channel between management of the school and trainees and we have never had any complaints pertaining to food or tracksuits.

“Our trainees and officers at large are very much aware of the proper channels to air their grievances. So the allegations of students demonstrating or complaints on food or students being forced to buy expensive tracksuits are not true.

“The school management will always be available to assist trainees in various areas of need as they undergo these important training programmes.”

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