Prisons Care and Counseling Association (PRISCCA) executive director Dr Godfrey Malembeka says sodomy among incarcerated persons needs holistic attention because it is a global problem.
And Dr Malembeka explains that sex in correctional facilities is not only practiced by Zambian inmates and has since asked those calling it rampant, to stop because according to him, the trend is only in pockets as it does not occur frequently.
He said in an interview today that there was need for Government to carry out a survey to ascertain the levels of the sodomy in Correctional facilities and start providing the facilities with condoms to protect those indulging in sexual activities.
“Sex in Correctional facilities is a global problem and as such, I still differ with those who say it is rampant, it is not rampant and I am saying so because I have spent 17 years working in correctional facilities and I spent the first four years as a prisoner myself, those are rare cases. Yes the cases are there but the problem is that government has not done a survey because that is what is required, we need to do a research to ascertain the levels of sodomy in these Correctional facilities and start providing them with condoms. I mean that is what is happening elsewhere. In Lesotho the Government is actually providing condoms to inmates, they are not really distributing but they are providing condoms, they have actually mounted condotainers to serve those few who are involved in such activities,” Dr Malembeka said.
“Now what is required here in Zambia since our law does not allow that unnatural practice, what we need to do is to do a detailed survey and when we ascertain the levels, we shall educate the Government to revisit their position about what they will do after they have known the extent of the practice. But as it is, I can say it is in pockets in that it can be here or there but it is not rampant and we need to address it holistically by coming up with a report to show the level of that same practice,” Dr Malembeka said.
Dr Malembeka explained that he was excited by Government’s commitment to improving the statuses of Correctional facilities in the country.
He said the Construction of the Correctional complex in Mwembeshi would improve the plight of inmates greatly as it would be able to accommodate everyone regardless of their physical status.
“We have seen this Government pardoning over six thousand people in five and half years and that is a something which justifies the change of the correctional facility name from Prisons service. I think the private, public partnership is working very well for the Government because since that partnership, we have seen government refurbish and even construct new Correctional facilities across the country and then there is the construction of Mwembeshi group of prisons or group of
correctional facilities in Mwembeshi which is ongoing. So we will see Lusaka Central and kamwala correctional facilities moving to Mwembeshi which is 45 kilometers away from Lusaka and those will be modern structures because currently if you look at our correctional facilities, they are not been designed to suit every group of human being; for example, inmates with disabilities so we are going to see modern structures coming up in Mwembeshi,” he said.
“And more so, Government has not only changed the name from Prisons service to Correctional but they have changed the model as well, they have changed the model from punitive to now Correctional model or social model if you like. So we were in Ndola not so long ago with the Commissioner General of the Correctional services and we were told that they have embarked on a training programme for their officers, retraining them and changing their perception to accept this change, to change the way they look at people in incarceration and they are also working with the Law Development Commission (LDC) where PRISSCA is also sitting to review the prisons Act cap 97. We want it to be called Correctional service cap 97, we are also reviewing the penal code cap 88 and also the criminal procedure code cap 87, other allied laws and also the training curricular. So the next officers that will be recruited, will find a new curricula which does not only concentrate on custodial but also embraces things like human rights,” said Dr Malembeka.
And Dr Malembeka also called on Government to deploy enough medical personnel to help those infected with Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other related infections.