Daniel Nemukuyu Investigations and Special Reports Editor
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has been hard hit by a transport crisis, amid reports that the country’s 46 prisons are being serviced by 11 security vehicles.
Mechanical faults in respect of the 11 Nissan UD95 trucks are a common problem across the country’s 10 provinces.
Vehicle shortages, coupled with the unavailability of fuel, have crippled the organisations’ operations, a development that has seen inmates at times failing to attend court.
ZPCS’ fleet is depleted with several vehicles grounded over mechanical faults countrywide.
Investigations revealed that Harare province, which has six prisons, is operating with two trucks, that are not in good condition.
Mashonaland Central’s prisons, Bindura, Guruve and Mt Darwin prisons, Mazowe Prison Farm and Pednor Prison Farm are serviced by one security truck.
In Matabeleland North, Binga, Hwange, Lupane, Nkayi, Tsholotsho, Victoria Falls and Inyathi prisons, as well as Anju Prison Farm also rely on one truck.
Bulawayo, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland have one truck each.
In an interview, ZPCS national spokesperson Superintendent Meya Khanyezi confirmed the development, saying transport problems were hampering operations.
“We do not have enough vehicles to ferry inmates to and from court,” said Supt Khanyezi.
“Most of the vehicles are down and parked at our workshops countrywide.
“The current fleet is obsolete and we need more vehicles. For us to function properly, we require 45 more security trucks.”
The transport crisis has made it impossible for ZPCS to decongest Bindura Remand Prison, which is now overcrowded because of the machete gangs arrested during police’s ongoing Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere.
At least 150 inmates were last week sleeping outside the cells because of overcrowding.
It has been raining in Bindura last week, worsening the plight of the inmates.
The prison has a holding capacity of 255, but since the launch of “Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere” early last month, the figures have ballooned to 670, more than double the holding capacity.
“In terms of policy, prisoners cannot be moved away from their court,” said Supt Khanyezi.
“If we think of going out of our way to move them to Harare and transport them to Bindura each time they have a court appearance, the transport crisis in the organisation will always curtail us. We do not have enough security vehicles to do that, hence the option falls away.”
Over the past years, the country’s courts have been complaining over failure by ZPCS to bring inmates to court.