Government will soon dispose Harare Central and Remand Prison in order to raise money to construct two new modern holding facilities at Chikurubi and in Marondera.
Inspection of the holding facilities, by Government experts, have concluded that the complex can no longer be rehabilitated and continues to deteriorate for human habitation.
Authorities intend to leverage the complex’s location in prime urban land, on the periphery of central Harare, to secure a lucrative deal with real estate developers.
It is understood that a deal would be structured to ensure the real estate firm first builds a new remand prison at Chikurubi and an open prison in Marondera, before assuming ownership of the old prison complex.
The medium-security prison facility was first opened in 1910 by white colonial settlers and primarily used to incarcerate blacks and later nationalist politicians.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Government is intent on reforming the prison rehabilitation system and would soon be introducing the concept of community rehabilitation centres.
Community rehabilitation centres are a form of open prisons where certain categories of offenders are offered life skills training during incarceration.
Said the minister: “What we intend to do with the Ministry of Local Government (Public Works and National Housing) is to find mechanisms of working with land developers.
“We have Harare Central and Remand Prison, which was built many years ago and is now located on prime urban land owing to the expansion of the city.
“We believe that the state in which it is in cannot be reconstructed or revamped.
“So, we have been given the go ahead to find a developer, then we will evaluate its fair value which we believe could be quite substantial given that it is now on prime land.
“Once we have agreed with the developer and before we demolish the complex, they will build a new prison for us at Chikurubi and an open prison in Marondera.
“Only then will we demolish the place and move our prisoners to the new structure which will house modern facilities that are in line with international standards.
Minister Ziyambi said the introduction of community prisons was part of an exercise to remodel the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.
“Once the requisite Act is enacted, we want to come up with community correctional centres which will basically be open prisons.
“We want to introduce this concept of open prisons were some of our offenders can be taken to concentrate on the correctional aspect and rehabilitation through providing them life skills to enable them easy integration into society when released.
“The community rehabilitation centres would be interactive with society.
“They will be conducting certain training and jobs in conjunction within the communities.
Cabinet recently approved changes to the Prisons Act in order to ensure prisoners are accorded more constitutional rights.
The rights include access to consult a medical practitioner of their choice and at their own expense.
Further, the parole system will be broadened to accommodate all categories of prisoners.