Gweru prisoners face the cold

GWERU — The low temperatures that hit Gweru on Monday saw inmates from Hwahwa prison clad only in khaki shorts and shirts, shivering and cuddling themselves, as they attended hearings at the Magistrates’ Courts in what a human rights lawyer has termed a “sad situation” for the prisoners.

Report by Stephen Chadenga

Gweru-based human rights lawyer Brian Dube said the government should ensure that prisoners were provided with warm clothing as the cold spell swept across the country.

“With the cold spell around, the situation does not look good for these inmates at all,” he said. “It is a sad situation, but I understand those families who can provide the required jerseys at prison are allowed to do so.

“But from a human rights point of view, the government should do its best to provide for inmates.”

Gweru has a reputation for being one of the coldest cities in the country, with temperatures plummeting to below zero in the past years.

In January the plight of prisoners in the country became a topical issue after activists bemoaned the conditions in prisons as shocking.

At the time Justice and Legal Affairs deputy minister Obert Gutu said the government was doing its best to address the situation.
“The government is trying to comply with the provisions of statutory instrument 149/2011, which stipulates what prisoners should eat,” he was quoted as saying.

“But is not on a sound financial footing to meet the obligations set out by the instrument.”

Edison Chihota, the chief executive of the Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender approached prison officials at the time, but said he had been told that prisons faced funding problems, as they did not get a direct allocation from the fiscus.

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