HARARE – Zimbabwe’s judiciary system suffered yet another embarrassment yesterday after inmates at Harare’s remand prison could not attend court for the second day.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS)’s failure to bring prisoners to court due to the deplorable state of its vehicles resulted in dozens of cases not being heard, with magistrates remanding the cases in absentia.
While ZPCS spokesperson Elizabeth Banda could not readily provide a comment to the Daily News, she called the State media to explain their predicament.
She said ZPCS’s vehicles were no longer “fit to ferry human beings” as they have become a hazard to prisoners.
“The state of our vehicles is deplorable and they are not fit to ferry people for trial to courts. We really want to take prisoners to court but we face transport problems which see us sometimes failing to deliver our duties. We therefore appeal to (the) powers-that-be to look into our issue so that trials are done in time. The trucks that service prisons in Harare take on average 180 prisoners to various courts every day,” she said.
“There is no safety for prisoners in our trucks and our greatest fear is that we will one day be held accountable if prisoners get injured in those trucks. Many of the trucks are eight or more years old and it has been years since they were last serviced. We therefore appeal to (the) powers-that-be for help so that the judiciary system does not incur hiccups,” she said.
Seats in the trucks are also in a bad state while there is a risk prisoners may escape as the canopies of the trucks have been tempered with.
Legal practitioner Stephen Chikotora said failure to bring prisoners to court had varying consequences.
“The relatives of inmates who pay the legal fees are the ones that bear the brunt because the legal fees still need to be paid,” he said.