Home Crime & Courts Release more prisoners: Govt urged

Release more prisoners: Govt urged

Prison Inmates walk past a prison guard at the Chikurubi Maximum security prison in Harare, Zimbabwe on May 20, 2015 during a tour by a parliamentary committee to assess the state of the nation's prisons where inmates widely complained of food shortages, over-crowding and inadequate food rations and diet. AFP PHOTO/Jekesai Njikizana / AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA

THE International Coalition Against Coronavirus for Africa (ICAC) Zimbabwean chapter has urged authorities to release more prisoners from overcrowded correctional facilities, which the organisation said were becoming epicentres of COVID-19.

Last week, 43 inmates and 23 correctional officers at Grey Prison in Bulawayo tested positive for COVID-19, while over 25 inmates at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison were infected.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service health services director Evidence Gaka on July 9 also confirmed that five cases had been recorded at Bulawayo Prison involving four inmates and a prison officer.

Read: Police General Advises Zimbabweans On July 31 Demo: ‘Stay Safe’

ICAC Zimbabwe president Maxwell Vuma Mkandla yesterday said they were not happy over the delays by African governments to decongest prisons.

“We are not happy that governments seem not to be heeding calls to decongest prisons in the wake of revelations that authorities in Zimbabwe are not able to provide masks, sanitisers and enable proper social distancing in prisons. We still remind the governments to release prisoners in all congested prisons considering the rise in the COVID-19 cases,” Mkandla said.

“We request the governments to release more prisoners based on the escalating cases. We appeal that the releases must basically have focus on those who are remanded in custody pending trials. Also those who have served much of their jail terms must be released and this will ease congestion and reduce chances of spreading COVID-19.”

Mkandla, however, saluted the government of Zimbabwe for releasing over 2 000 prisoners early this year saying the move is likely to have contributed to fewer cases being reported in some institutions.

“We still insist that the governments must grant bailouts for those who are still under investigation and trials so that they attend trials from their homes,” he said.

Also Read: Watch: Soldiers getting ready as 31 July nears

In May, ICAC leadership drawn from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Benin, Democratic Republic Congo and Togo in a joint petition urged African governments to decongest prisons.

Togo-based Ivory Coast ICAC president Toure Moussa Zeguen said: “The ICAC, aware of the situation of prison overcrowding in Africa’s most countries, is concerned about the fate of our fellow citizens, brothers and sisters detained in remand and correctional facilities.

“We invite the African authorities at the highest level to take action and emergency measures to take into account the recommendations of the United Nations requesting the relief of congestion on the basis of vulnerability criteria such as age, state of health (hypertensive, diabetic, asthmatic and pregnant women) etc.”

Zeguen said governments should immediately release children and their mothers, prisoners with disabilities, political prisoners, minor crimes and longterm prisoners (more than three years) without trial or final decision.-NewsDay

Previous article‘Shiri started vomiting from suspected food poisoning’: Family
Next articlePolice officer collapses, dies in ZUPCO queue