The Zimbabwe National Water Authority, (Zinwa) has disconnected water supplies to Karoi prison over a $37 000 debt, a situation which has forced inmates to fetch the precious liquid outside the jail.
Zinwa, which is battling to raise workers salaries after writing off $55 million following a government decree to slash all rates prior to July harmonised elections cut off water supplies to the prison two weeks ago.
Currently, Zinwa is on a national blitz disconnecting defaulting clients as debts continue to increase owing to the reluctance by some government institutions, corporates and mining companies.
“Yes it is true that we disconnected water supplies to Karoi jail. We will reconnect supplies if they pay reconnection fee and there must be a workable payment plan,’’ said a Zinwa official who refused to be named as he is not authorised to speak to journalists.
Another Zinwa official said the borehole drilled within the prison premises had dried up. It is understood that the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPSC) officials failed to strike out a payment plan” over the debt.
“The lack of water at the prison is affecting us as well. We do not know when payment will be made so that supplies can be restored,” added another prison officer speaking on condition that he is not named for professional reasons.
There are close to 40 prisons countrywide accounting for 17 000 inmates in total and Karoi prison has over 300 prisoners serving varying sentences.
“We are using buckets donated by the Red Cross to get water from the borehole outside jail premises and it is overcrowded by local residents. We fear cases of diarrhea will recur and affect most of the prisoners due to the water crisis gripping the prison,’’ added another prison officer.
ZPCS Karoi officer-in charge Superintendent Philip Zvongouya could not be reached for comment. Human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama said it is regrettable that the prisoners’ rights to water continue to be infringed.
“It is unfortunate that some prisoners are denied basic human rights including clean water, food and better sanitation. The prisoners must enjoy these liberties like any citizen,’’ said Muchadehama.
Apart from facing water shortages, prisons are also battling to feed inmates and have failed to implement a new dietary regime to improve inmates’ health conditions. Radio VOP