Zimbabwe prisoners spend years in jail without sentencing

Zimbabwe prisoners

By Violet Gonda
04 February 2013

The appalling situation in Zimbabwe’s prisons has yet again come under the spotlight, with scores of babies languishing in jail with their mothers, while many inmates have been in prison for years awaiting trial.

The head of the prison services, retired major general Paradzai Zimondi, revealed the details during a rare press conference on Friday. He said there are at least 69 infants in prisons.

Zimondi appealed for help over the plight of the infants and expressed concern over delays in bringing prisoners to trial, which he said is causing overcrowding.

Journalists who toured Harare Remand Prison say there are many inmates who have spent many years in jail awaiting trial.

69 year old Jonathan Mutzinze told the Daily News he has been in prison for the past 15 years, following his arrest in 1998 for purchasing a stolen vehicle. He blamed his long incarceration to delays in the judiciary process.

Other prisoners include MDC councillor Tungamirai Madzokere, who is part of
the 29 Glen View residents accused of killing a police officer in 2011. He has been in remand prison for almost two years.

There are 150 foreigners from countries such as Pakistan, South Africa and Malawi who have spent several months in detention and live in unspeakable conditions in prison.

Last year a shocking report by the Senate’s Human Rights Committee revealed that Khami prison just outside Bulawayo, which houses over 2,000 convicts, was in a shocking state. The maximum security section had no doors and prison officers were using handcuffs to make sure prisoners did not bolt.

Justice and legal affairs deputy minister Obert Gutu said the prison system in the countries’ 47 prisons, remains critical but is not as dire as it was a couple of years ago.

“Although our inmates are not getting food as per our statutory instrument, the situation has improved and at least they are getting food everyday now.”
The minister said the challenge was to have the prisons run as correctional facilities and not as conventional jails.

He also said the Zimbabwe Prisons Services could help the cash-strapped treasury to run the various farms under its control more profitably.

Gutu told SW Radio Africa that Chikurubi is one of the best commercials farms in Zimbabwe, with more than 850 hectares of prime land.

“If that farm is run professionally, this problem of food in our prisons would be a thing of the past.”

Gutu also said the problems in Zimbabwe’s prisons are a “microcosm’ of the entire national challenges facing the nation. He said Zimbabwe has to first sort out the political and economic policies for standards, across-the-board, to improve in the country.

However he said the new draft constitution, set to be tabled in parliament this week, stipulates that children should not be jailed with their mothers.

5 Responsesto “Zimbabwe prisoners spend years in jail without sentencing”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The best way of easing this situation is to give all these prisoners a pardon and start a new era after the national elections.

  2. Chimbwidos Warvets says:

    Prisons are not entertainment installations as they are there are in place for one singular purpose which is to punish those who break the laws of the land. At a time when the country is gearing for elections and hooliganism will be on the increase, prisons should not be found wanting but ready to deal with the problems likely to occur. I have yet to know any place on this planet where prisoners enjoy life in a prison for it will then defeat their very purpose.

    • Prisons are not Torture facilitys ,they are there for dealing with law breakers yes ,but in a way that also guarantees that they human rights are not Violated in the process . After all two wrongs dont make a right At present being in any of zimbabwes prisons is equivalent to a slow death sentence , or fast for some . Wars are and were fought over Human Rights for every body .These Prisons are not a reflection on our Society but the Bad state of the Goverment in Control . After all we should remember Nhasi chineni ,Mangwana chinewe and not to mock at anyone in trouble, or take advantage of them. You may be in their shoes tomorrow

      • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

        I condemn any form of torture to any human being because I once suffered under an illegal regime for a crime I never committed but for the simply reason that I wanted my countrymen to enjoy freedom and human rights which you now take for granted. But once you go to prison my brother, what you term as ‘your human rights’ will be taken away from you. That is the essence of being a prisoner and a prison is not supposed to be a place for enjoyment or entertainment but for punishment and to remould a human being to be a better citizen. It is not about retributive justice as you seem to imply above but to punish criminals for their wayward behaviour commensurate with the crime committed. That is why criminals are classified once in prison taking into account the nature of crime committed. It is for the purposes of giving them the punishment they deserve and this practice is done world over. Well, if I get in trouble and end up in prison, I know what to expect, blazo.

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