FEMALE inmates at the country’s smaller prisons have been hard-hit by a critical shortage of sanitary wear and other basics such as soap and toothpaste, it has emerged.
By Edgar Gweshe
Female Prisoners Support Trust (Femprist) director, Rita Nyamupinga said donors were now focusing on inmates at bigger correctional facilities at a time government had no capacity to deal with the problem due to financial constraints.
She said the organisation’s prison visits have revealed that a health hazard was looming as some female inmates were being forced to resort to unhealthy alternatives.
Nyamupinga said for some time now, donors have diverted their attention from the smaller prisons as the situation at larger correctional facilities needed urgent attention due to a high number of inmates.
“The situation is quite dire in the smaller prisons. This has been worsened by the fact that at the moment, donors have turned their attention to bigger prisons such as Chikurubi and Khami maximum prisons,” she said.
“What this means is that areas such as Bindura, Karoi, Kadoma and Mutimurefu among others have not received meaningful support. The situation has been bad for the female inmates who are in urgent need of assistance.”
Nyamupinga said that in some cases, the food situation was dire with inmates relying on food being brought by their relatives.
“There are some inmates who are getting help from their relatives who are bringing them these necessities including food. But as for those who do not have relatives that come to see them, the situation is quite terrible and they have to wait for donations,” she said.
Nyamupinga said her organisation had embarked on a fund-raising campaign to assist female inmates with sanitary wear, toothpaste as well as bath soap, among other necessities.
But she said due to transport problems, Femprist has been unable to reach some areas in provinces such as Matabeleland and Manicaland.
Contacted for comment, Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) spokesperson, Simon Kaondo however said the situation was under control.
“We do not have a problem in that area. As for the issue of sanitary wear, we have enough of them because we buy. We have also been receiving a lot of assistance from various donors and churches as well,” he said.
“The female population in our prisons is very low and that is why we have been able to cater for their welfare.”
The ZPS, like many state institutions, has been reeling from the effects of a critical shortage of cash, resulting in water disconnections at some prisons due to non-paymentof bills.