A number of inmates are living an unending nightmare in remand prison for periods ranging from 24 to 108 months due to a muddy justice delivery system, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has said.
The holding capacity of Zimbabwe’s prisons is currently overstretched due to non-implementation of stated regulations.
Chiri said the delay in the trial of the inmates is resulting in over-crowding in the country’s prisons while unconvicted prisoners who may be innocent are staying in remand prisons for unnecessarily long periods.
“This will be delayed justice, at the same time being an expense of the state,” Chiri noted in her recently released report for the financial year ended December 31, 2019.
Chiri attributed part of the problem to the Prisons and Correctional Service who did not send lists for unconvicted prisoners to the High Court during the quarter starting on October 1, 2019 from eight of the ten provinces.
“Records produced by the High Court revealed that the list was submitted by Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland North provinces. This was a violation of section 118 of the Prisons Act [Chapter 7:11],” Chiri said.
“An examination of the list of unconvicted prisoners produced by the Prisons and Correctional Service revealed that some of the unconvicted prisoners have been in remand for periods ranging from 24 to 108 months. This may be attributed to the non-submission of the lists to the High Court as indicated above,” she added.
The auditor-general said the risk and implication of non-submission of the list of unconvicted prisoners may delay the trial of the inmates and may result in over-crowding in the country’s prisons.
She recommended that there is a need to comply with the requirements of section 118 of the Prisons Act [Chapter 7:11] so as to expedite the trial of unconvicted prisoners.