8 May 2018
. . . as prisoners fail to appear in court
Tatenda Chipungudzanye and Zvikomborero Parafini
PRISONS and Correctional Service yesterday failed to take 160 prisoners to Harare courts owing to transport woes.
Dire is the situation that prisons fear they would be answerable if any mishap happens as they ferry prisoners to court in the old trucks that are no longer worth to ferry human beings.
The vehicles service Harare’s Rotten Row, Mbare, Norton, Chitungwsiza and High Court. Other affected areas are Bulawayo and Gwanda.
Prisons spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Banda said the transport issue had put their organisation in a quagmire such that they were failing to deliver their services properly.
“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 powers that be to look into our issue so that trials are done in time,” Ass Comm Banda said.
Ass Comm Banda said trucks that service prisons in Harare take on average 180 prisoners to various courts everyday.
“Yesterday 160 prisoners were supposed to appear in court but they didn’t due to transport woes and on any other day 180 need to be transported to court.
“This does not include prison officers on duty.
“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,” she said.
It is said one of the trucks at Harare Central Prison had brakes defects while it started being used at the prison in 2003.
Ass Comm Banda said transport problem was an issue not only affecting Harare but other stations as well since the trucks were bought around the same time.
“The trucks were bought at the same time and it is not unusual that they have problems around the same time because they are old.
“We therefore appeal to powers that be for help so that the judiciary system does not incur hiccups,” she said.
An insider at Harare Central Prison said the openings to the canopies of the trucks were tempered with such that they fear that prisoners might escape during their trips to courts.
Seats in the trucks are also in bad state.