THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has said it was shocked to note that inmates at Chikurubi Maximum Prison are using the buckets to relieve themselves in their cells.
“The commission was disturbed to hear and not that most cells had no toilets and inmates resorted to the use of buckets,” said ZHRC chairperson Elasto Mugwadi.
“The bucket system is supposed to be considered archaic in a developed and civilized society as our country.”
Mugwadi made the revelations before the parliament thematic committee on human rights in Harare Wednesday while presenting findings from the rights commission’s probe into the March Chikurubi riots.
The ZHRC boss said poor sanitation at Chikurubi was a “health time bomb”.
Over 900 inmates protested against poor prison conditions which included starvation and physical torture from the correctional institution’s officials.
The riots resulted in the death of a number of prisoners from gun fire by police officers called to stop a mass prison break.
Toilets, kitchen facilities and blankets were destroyed and burnt in the skirmishes.
Mugwadi said while probing possible causes of the riots they discovered that overcrowding might be one of the contributing factors.
“The Prison has a holding capacity of 1,360 inmates, but on the day of (our) visit there were 2,270 inmates which translates to 69.9% overcrowding. That is a serious issue that needs to be attended to,” said Mugwadi.
“Kitchen facilities and food stocks left a lot to be desired.”
Mugwadi also said they discovered some patients at Chikurubi Prison clinic “sleeping on the floor”.
“All these observations are a violation of prisoners’ rights enshrined in the constitution,” he added.