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Alarming: 71,1% of prison inmates are below 30

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Alarming: 71,1% of prison inmates are below 30

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SIMBARASHE MTEMBO 
MIRROR REPORTER 

MASVINGO – Seventy-one per cent of inmates entering Zimbabwe prisons in the first quarter of 2023 are unemployed youth between the age of 15 and 30, a Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) report has said. 
Analysts said this was an alarming report pointing to the possible escalation of abuse of drugs by Zimbabwe’s youth.
The report; 2023 First quarter prison admissions and discharges statistics report released in May 2023 says the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) recorded 12 558 new inmates, with youth constituting 71,1% (8 926). 
Youth in the 20-24 age group constitutes 23.9% (2 810 males-191 females) of the admissions.
The 15-19 age group has 847 males and 79 females. The most committed crimes by the age group are robbery (311), theft (288), burglary (209) and rape (110). 
The report comes at a time the national unemployment rate is 46.7%, according to a ZimStat 2023 first-quarter labour force survey report released on April 25, 2023. 
Many youth work as vendors and drug dealers dealing in dangerous drugs like crystal meth resulting in high crime prevalence.
A total of 1 199 burglaries, 1 815 theft and 1 356 robbery cases were committed by youth between 15-30 years in the three months. Some of them engage in these criminal activities to find money to buy drugs. 
Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) communications officer, Herbert Chikosi recently told The Mirror that youth, particularly the unemployed from high-density suburbs spend their time abusing drugs. 
He said some desperate youth have resolved to boiling sanitary wear and drinking the thick white liquid extract to get intoxicated. Chikosi also said child marriages, teenage pregnancies and Gender Based Violence (GBV) are drivers of health problems affecting youth. 
The nine most committed crimes by youth are burglary (1 199), theft (1 815), assault (1 340), robbery (1 356), domestic violence (423), rape (407), drugs (209), murder (183). Worryingly increasing is attempted intentional homicide (251).  
The report also states that theft, burglary, and assault were committed by people who had completed lower secondary, while those who completed tertiary education were mostly imprisoned for theft and fraud.
“Prisoners that had completed tertiary levels of education were mostly imprisoned for other theft and fraud.
 “The proportion of employed new prisoners that had elementary occupations was 35.5%. Those who were employed as plant machine operators and assemblers were 23.4 per cent whilst 17.9% had craft and related occupations. Theft (other) burglary, assault and robbery (without firearms) were the most frequent crimes for prisoners between 20-44. For males aged 60 and above, the most common crime was rape,” reads part of the report. 

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