Human rights defenders have described Friday’s food riots by prisoners as a warning to the Zanu PF-led government that it needs to urgently fix its attitude towards the observance of essential rights.
This comes as 11 people — three prison officials and eight prisoners from Chikurubi Maximum Prison — are battling for their life while one was died in a riot driven by poor food being served to convicts.
Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa senior researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the Chikurubi riots by the 900 prisoners over food should be taken as a wake-up call to the government to review prison conditions and ensure that the prisons are adequately resourced to protect and promote the rights of inmates.
Taken from Daily News
“Prisoners have rights too, and the government of Zimbabwe has a constitutional obligation to protect those rights,” Mavhinga said.
Prisoners smashed windows and burnt blankets during the demonstration which is said to have lasted three hours.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) spokesperson Elizabeth Banda said the violence started after the inmates were served Sadza and vegetables.
The organisation is constantly struggling to provide proper meals and logistics for the incarcerated —conditions which experts feel compromises the health of inmates.
Mavhinga said the violent incident is adding up on others which point to further deterioration of rule of law in the country.
“This may point to a spreading breakdown of the rule of law and government failure to prioritise human rights protection as it comes hard on the heels of the abduction and police harassment of MDC supporters at their party headquarters, among others,” he said.
Director of Human Rights NGO Forum Abel Chikomo said Zanu PF, being the majority in government, should lay their priorities right.
“Right now, we have the President and his whole entourage in Japan, you can imagine how much is being spent when we can’t feed our prisoners. Prisons are supposed to be places of rehabilitation but you have them being deprived of human dignity. How then do they reform?” said Chikomo.
When the Daily News on Sunday visited the prison yesterday, everything appeared normal with vendors selling their wares just outside the premises while about nine officers manned the main prison gate.