ZPS in drive to establish women’s open prison

Source: ZPS in drive to establish women’s open prison | The Sunday News May 12, 2019

ZPS in drive to establish women’s open prison

Peter Matika, Senior Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Prison Correctional Services (ZPCS) is seeking to establish a women open prison as it seeks to ensure female prisoners are accorded a chance to engage in income generating projects for their own benefit.

Zimbabwe has one open prison for men, Connemara, which is situated in Gweru.

An open prison is a jail in which the prisoners are trusted to serve their sentences with minimal supervision and perimeter security and are often not locked up in their cells. 

Prisoners or inmates may be permitted to take up employment, while serving their sentence.

In an interview, ZPCS spokesperson Chief Correctional Officer Meya Khanyezi said the organisation was working towards establishing a female open prison but was also seeking partners.

“There is a piece of land that has been identified but we need funds to establish the prison. The plan is to develop an all female facility that will house women and assist them by rehabilitating them back into society, as well as getting them to source funds for themselves before they leave prison by securing a form of employment,” she said.

She said there were, according to their statistics 458 female prisoners in the country, with 273 serving substantive sentences, while 185 were on remand.

“There are a total of 69 male inmates in the country’s only male open prison facility in Connemara, Gweru. So we want to have a similar facility to house female inmates, as they are less concerned about by society,” said Chief Correctional Officer Khanyezi.

She said female inmates had less visitors and felt they may have been abandoned by their families, hence the need to establish an open prison for them to rehabilitate them back into society.

“Unlike men, women, seldom get visitors. They only get two or three visitors in sporadic periods. Perhaps it is because society does not want to associate with them after their prison life. Men on the other hand can go on with their lives after serving time in prison. It is just an ironic scenario because while men are in prison, their spouses visit them very often, if only the same can be said for women,” said Chief Correctional Officer Khanyezi.

There are 19 382 prisoners in the country’s jails, against a carrying capacity of prisons’ 17 000.

According to statistics released by ZPCS of that figure 18 928 are male.

“A total of 15 508 have already been convicted and are serving sentences, while 3 421 await finalisation of their cases. As noted 458 are female, with 273 serving short sentences and 185 are on remand. A total of 113 are juvenile prisoners, with 105 being boys and the rest being girls,” said Chief Correctional Officer Khanyezi.