PRISONERS continue to die from a poor diet and the acute shortage of essential drugs in the country’s congested penitentiaries, convicted beneficiaries of a recent presidential clemency has revealed.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently granted amnesty to some 3,000 convicts in a bid to decongest the country’s under-pressure prisons.
Some of the those freed have claimed that conditions are dire with prisoners dying from starvation and the lack of drugs.
In interviews with NewZimbabwe.com, some of the ex-convicts claimed that prisoners were fed on bread crumps donated by bakeries as well as sadza and soup.
“There is hunger in prisons, there are no drugs and sometimes it’s even difficulty to get a paracetamol (painkillers),” said opposition MDC-T activist Yvonne Musarurwa who had been convicted for the murder of a police officer.
However, while drugs were in short supply, the availability of ARV treatments for those living with HIV has improved, thanks to the efforts of international donors.
“The only drugs which are widely available are ARVs,” said Musarurwa.
“But health rights in prisons do not only apply to people living with HIV. Inmates struggling with other debilitating ailments are only administered pain-killers which are not even readily available.”
Female prisoners have also, in the past, struggled with the shortage of sanitary products amid reports many were forced to use pieces of cloth and prison issue jerseys.
This is now a thing of the past said one ex-convict Monica Moyo.
“On that one (sanitary products), we want to thank the government and the donor community; shortages are thing of the past.
“There is so much of the products (sanitary pads) that even those that are close to ‘best before dates’ are thrown away.”
“Again, they (prison authorities) sometimes allow relatives to bring you undergarments. So, as women, we felt respected.”