HARARE, March 19 — The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has called on the government to adequately finance the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) so that it can meet the basic needs of prisoners.

At least 900 prisoners at the Chikurubi Maximum Prison last Friday rioted against the poor food that they were receiving with the events leading to the death of five inmates so far.

In a statement issued here Wednesday, ZHRC Chairman Elasto Mugwadi expressed concern over the loss of lives of inmates following the riot at Chikurubi Maximum Prison owing to the deplorable standards of living.

“However, the ZHRC notes with concern the inability by ZPCS to adhere to this dietary scale owing to financial constraints. The ZPCS has attributed the challenges to feed and clothe prisoners to the inadequate
releases from Government, which factor has also resulted in its inability to carry out the rehabilitation and correctional role thereby seriously affecting the treatment of prisoners and their basic human rights,” he said.

“The ZHRC calls upon the state to adequately finance the ZPCS so that it can satisfactorily provide the basic needs of every prisoner.”

Mugwadi also urged the government to de-congest the country’s prisons. “The State is further called upon to ease the congestion in all the country’s prisons and not go beyond the holding capacity as in the case at Chikurubi Maximum Prison where the holding capacity is 1,360 and yet there are over 2,270 inmates,” he said.

The Zimbabwe government has since said the riot was the result of a plan hatched by a gang of 100 prisoners led by convicted rapist and former man of the cloth Robert Gumbura, who wanted to escape during the commotion.