via ZINWA cuts water supplies to prison | SW Radio Africa by Mthulisi Mathuthu December 11, 2013
About 500 inmates at the Marondera Prison are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) disconnected water supplies over a $375,000 Bill.
The Herald reported Wednesday that the complex, which is also home to more than 150 prison staff including their families, has not had water since December 4th raising prospects of an outbreak of diseases such as cholera. The report quoted the officer in charge of the prison, Never Kambizi, saying that as a result of the cuts the prisoners and staff are now relying on two unprotected shallow wells specifically dug for that purpose.
Pictures featured alongside the report showed that the water is not clean.
Kambizi said the situation was ‘a time bomb’ and warned that a cholera outbreak could hit the complex any time. Kambizi added that security concerns had also arisen as prisoners had to be allowed to fetch water outside the complex and to bath at the nearby river, raising dangers of escapes.
These developments come after a parliamentary committee heard that about 100 prisoners have died in the country’s 55 prisons this year, due to poor nutrition and health problems.
According to the Herald, ZINWA warned the Zimbabwe Prison Services last month that that it would turn the taps off if the debt was not cleared. In its letter quoted in the report ZINWA said it hoped the prisons services would pay what it owed to avoid what it called a ‘disaster.’
Former deputy justice Minister Obert Gutu told SW Radio Africa that the situation at the Marondera prison was not an isolated one, because ‘virtually all prisons country wide are deplorably under -funded’.
Gutu said the situation would have been better if the government had its priorities right. He said his research as a government minister in the inclusive government revealed that the government was not paying its debts to many service providers that supplied the prisons. He said the then justice Minister, Chinamasa, appeared dis- interested in his many reports.
Gutu put the crisis in the prisons down to ‘a combination of negligence, incompetence and corruption’.