Female prisoners plead for amnesty

WOMEN in prison have appealed for amnesty, with one psychiatric inmate asking President Robert Mugabe to “get back to his senses” and order for their release.

“I would like to thank everyone here for visiting us and listening to our issues. I come from Borrowdale and we have many issues affecting us here.

“I would like to ask them (parliamentary portfolio committee on Women’s Affairs) to ask President Mugabe to get back to his senses and pardon us,” the inmate said to applause from her fellows.

The inmate was telling the parliamentary portfolio committee on Women’s Affairs during a tour of the Chikurubi female Prison on Tuesday. 

Mugabe, last year, extended amnesty to all female prisoners except those on death row or serving life sentences across the country’s 46 prisons.

Apart from the amnesty, the prisoners raised a number of struggles they were facing in prison, from poor diet, health risks and unfair practices by the police and court system.

MDC activist Yvonne Musarurwa, serving a 20-year sentence said they were experiencing food challenges.
“We have no sugar, the porridge we eat will not be having sugar, also if we can at least get cooking oil that would be welcome.

“We know meat is an issue but if we get it at least once a month,” she said.

“We also have issues with cleaning our toilets; we need sanitisers so we can clean our toilets, buckets and brushes as well.

“On a different note, another thing is that police are just dropping people in prison before investigating issues, and they start following up on people here.

“And this is also putting a strain on prisons. Let’s say arrest after investigation not the other way round. And also some are in here because they are failing to raise the steep bail money required.”

Another inmate Slivia Savanhu said government should not only prioritise people with HIV but also look at other ailments.

“I am diabetic and hypertensive and also have heart problems. My children are being burdened by medical expenses and looking for tablets for the whole month.

“The prison is not supplying me. And there is also need to provide for my dietary requirements. We have other people here with chronic ailments that can cause death if not treated,” she said.

“And regarding food, please help us, some of us do not even get visitors to help with food, please remember us in that regard, yes we have sinned but please forgive us.

“We have had visitors who always come here but nothing changes.  Please help us, don’t just write on paper.”
Evelyn Sibanda said the children with their mothers were suffering.

“I have worked with children in pre-school; I do not have a kid here. The children here do not have diapers and the people here with children most of them only have two nappies.

“A lot of babies here get rash because of the lack of nappies and diapers. Please remember these kids.

“Yes we were wrong and we ask for forgiveness but these kids did not commit any crime, please remember them.” —Bridget Mananavire

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