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Prisons crippled

THE administration of justice is under threat after it emerged the Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) does not have vehicles to transport remand and convicted prisoners to jail.

Florence Ziyambi, the director of public prosecutions in the Attorney-General’s Office, confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent the transport blues.

“There is a serious transport problem,” Ziyambi said in an interview last week. “I heard the Zimbabwe Prison Services confirming this in a meeting. The problem is not only in small towns, but everywhere.”

At times, she said, the police would be called in to assist ZPS in transporting convicts and remand prisoners.

“Those who have been further remanded in custody cannot be ferried to the prisons because of transport problems and the police have to be called to chip in and ferry the prisoners,” Ziyambi explained. “I understand that fuel is also a problem. However, the best people to talk to are from the prison services.”

Efforts to get comment from Prisons Deputy Commissioner Washington Chimboza were in vain yesterday, but he was recently quoted in the state media bemoaning the lack of transport in the ZPS.

Judicial service sources told the Independent that transport problems have forced courts around the country to decline new cases.

The sources said the ZPS ordered its officials to stop transporting prisoners in unofficial vehicles as had become the custom.

Sources added that some magistrates’ courts in the country could no longer accommodate prisoners on remand. The situation is so dire that both convicted and remanded prisoners have had to be accommodated in police holding cells because of health fears, but the police are not happy with this, they say.

 

Wongai Zhangazha

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