Thyolo prison Office In-charge Mary Mbonekela says there is congestion at the prison as many inmates have been moved to the facility since government declared it as a southern region prisons quarantine center.
Mbonekela said that the congestion has impacted them negatively adding that the funds they receive are not enough for the prison which has over 300 inmates.
“This prison takes 80 -100 inmates as a recommended capacity, but after the government declared it as a quarantine center for southern region prisons, it is now taking up 250-350 inmates which is not normal and even some measures of covid-19 cannot be followed. Just imagine a building meant for 80 inmates now 350 inmates how can social distancing be like.
“Therefore, this congestion has eventually led us into huge debts with the suppliers because the funding which is meant for 80 prisoners is used to 350 prisoners. For instance, we spend 3 bags of maize (weighing 50kg) for a one-day meal, so I ask the government to revise our budget so that we take care of these inmates and also we need fuel to be used in transferring these inmates to their respective prisons upon completing 14 days of quarantine,” said Mbonekela.
She also expressed concern over the lack of enough hygiene facilities saying the whole prison has one toilet and one bathroom against over 350 inmates.
He said this h might expose the prisoners to Cholera as we are in the rain season.
Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda agreed that Thyolo prison is indeed facing a lot of challenges citing congestion as a source of all.
“The prison is very small but accommodating over 250 prisoners, and the offices as well are very dilapidated. So we came to look at those issues so as to workout solutions together with them in the meantime while thinking about long term solutions,” said Banda.