Prison Inmates Fending For Their Families

By Kenneth Matimaire

Mutare, March 21, 2016 – WHILE it is a known fact that when one is condemned to prison life, they are separated from their sources of income, the case is not the same anymore with some prisons in Mutare where inmates can still fend for their families inside prison walls.

Mutare Remand Prison has built synergies with several private institutions to help mould inmates into responsible and law abiding citizens.

Among some of the initiatives is a partnership with Gogo Olive, an organisation that exports knitted dolls to Europe, Border Timbers and Bishop Manhanga’s church organisation.

Inmates are accorded an opportunity to work and generate income while serving time.

Proceeds are also transferred to families of inmates.

This emerged during a visit to the facility where prison managers also noted the overcrowding of the correctional facility as among challenges faced by the prison.

The remand prison, which falls under the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS), currently has 446 prisoners against a carrying capacity of 370.

This has also been exacerbated by that the correctional facility’s infrastructure is dilapidated and in urgent need of rehabilitation having been constructed in 1910.

MRP officer in charge, Superintendent Maplan Kakoto raised the concerns during last week’s tour of the institution where Mutare Teacher College (MTC) students donated a consignment of sanitary pads and groceries to inmates.

Sup Kakoto said while the food donation will assist in mitigating food shortages, the prison facility was also facing inadequate clothing for inmates, among the numerous challenges.

“Our facility is overcrowded. It has a carrying capacity of 370 inmates but we have 446 inmates here,” said Sup Kakoto.

“This is a challenge as we are forced to play around with the numbers and lock more inmates in a single cell than what it can accommodate.

“Most importantly, our infrastructure here needs attention. The cells do not allow free air circulation and we had to break some of the walls to create windows. They are not modern buildings as those we have at Mutare Prison Farm.

“The (Mutare Remand) prison was build way back in 1910. The prison needs facelift as it is now dilapidated.

“In fact, the whole building needs to be painted; the roof needs to be repaired and the yard inside the prison needs to be resurfaced.

“Our kitchen has got both firewood and electrical places but it is not working to full capacity. The fire place needs refurbishment and our electrical pots are not working to full capacity as we need thermostats,” he added.

He also emphasised the need for proper clothing for both convicted and remanded individuals.

Sup Kakoto could however not approximate how much was needed to fully rehabilitate the facility saying this could best be determined by a professional surveyor. 

ZPCS provincial public officer Liberty Mhlanga said the institution’s mandate to rehabilitate prisoners can only be successful if their infrastructure and operations are upgraded.

“We have a mandate to rehabilitate prisoners but that mandate also entails the rehabilitation of the facilities the inmates live in,” he said.

MTC student body president Tafadzwa Murayirwa pledged to continue to support the facility.

“This is the beginning of a relationship that will continue to grow. We will not end here; we are proposing as student teachers to offer inmates practical lessons such as computers to equip them with life sustaining skills by the time they leave this place,” he said.

Mutare Remand is one of the five prisons in Manicaland province.

There is Chipinge Prison, Mutare Farm Prison, Little Crow Farm Prison and Rusape Prison including three satellite prisons, namely Mutare, Nyanga and Murambinda satellite prisons.

 

Currently, Mutare Remand has 255 male and 24 female inmates who have been sentenced and 162 males including five females with pending trials.