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Masvingo prisons overwhelmed 

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Masvingo prisons overwhelmed 

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SIMBARASHE MTEMBO 

MIRROR REPORTER 

MASVINGO – Prisons in Masvingo Province with a total capacity to hold 840 inmates are overwhelmed with 1 147 prisoners including close to a hundred Class D inmates that should be contained at maximum security prisons. 

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) senior officers told a key stakeholders engagement meeting held at the High Court in Masvingo on Sunday that all three prisons that include Mutimurefu, Masvingo Remand and Chiredzi are not designated to hold Class D inmates.

Class D inmates are convicted felons serving seven year plus sentences. 

The informal meeting was convened by Constitutional Court judge, Justice Rita Makarau ahead of the opening of the 2024 Legal Year to get appraisals from key stakeholders in the justice delivery system. 

The ZPCS delegation was led by Assistant Commissioner Tafadzwa Kazembe who was accompanied by Officers in Charge (OIC) at the three prisons.

Mutimurefu OIC, Superintendent Francis Makonese said the prison built in 1980 has a capacity to contain 580 inmates but currently has 772 prisoners. He said equally worrying is that the prison is rehabilitating 99 Class D inmates. 

“The prison was built in 1980 with a capacity to house 580 inmates but we currently have 772 inmates. The overpopulation is therefore 33%. We have 99 Class D inmates who should be contained in maximum security prisons,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by Officer Commanding Masvingo Police, Commissioner Crispen Charumbira, Chief Charumbira, Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) Law School dean Victor Nkiwane, lawyers, churches and members of the Media among others. 

Masvingo Remand prison has a capacity to house 130 people awaiting trial but is currently holding 197 inmates. Some of the allegedly criminals awaiting murder trials have been in remand for over three years as their paperwork is yet to be transferred from different magistrate courts they initially appeared at.  

Chiredzi Prison is designed to contain 130 inmates but currently has 278 inmates. The prison also oversees satellite prisons in Mwenezi and Zaka. 

The delegation also complained that ZPCS is wasting resources by carrying inmates to routine court appearances which should be held virtually or whose records should be transferred to the nearest court. They said some inmates that are supposed to appear at Zaka Magistrates Court are held at Chiredzi Prison for security reasons and have to be transported to the court every week for routine appearances. 

They also pleaded for the construction of a holding cell at Gutu Magistrates Court where inmates sit outside the courtroom with prison guards as they await trial. They said that detainees can escape or harm court officials as there is virtually no security. 

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