15 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Prisoners Face Starvation, Ministry Warns

Photo: decade_null/Flickr
A holding cell (file photo).

INMATES in the country's overcrowded prisons face starvation this year due to lack of funds, a top government official said Wednesday

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Permanent Secretary Virginia Mabiza said the 2014 budget allocation was far below the required amount.

Mabiza was speaking before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Harare West Member of Parliament Jessie Majome.

She said her ministry needs a total amount of US$21 million for the whole year.

"The department was only allocated a paltry US$2,500 000 for prisoner's rations. We are unable to meet the requirements given the current allocation," Mabiza said.

Mabiza said unlike other requirements the feeding of inmates cannot be postponed.

She said currently Zimbabwe prisons have around 18,800 inmates against a holding capacity of 17,000.

Mabiza also said her ministry was facing serious transport problems since it is supposed to ferry prisoners to and from court.

"The prison services is mandated to ferry prisoners to and from the courts, but due to none unavailability of transport we face challenges to meet this mandatory duty.

"It is therefore in this regard that more funding is required to enable the department to procure and maintain or repair the vehicles that we require. We need about 164 pickup trucks six 65-seater buses, and fifteen Lorries," she said.

Mabiza said the US$ 500 000 that has been allocated can only purchase 15 trucks vehicles.

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