Zambia Correctional Service Commissioner General Percy Chato says those visiting incarcerated UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema should stop lying about prison conditions.
He said it was not possible for the Prisons authority to dispute every false statement concerning the conditions in Mukobeko Maximum Prison.
“As a Service, we are not going to respond to each and every issue raised by Individuals because as I stated earlier on, we operate by a system of Laws and Procedures. We wish to appeal to those visiting prisoners not to abuse the privilege and perpetrate falsehoods on the treatment of accused persons. I wish to advise them to get acquainted with the Prisons Act (CAP 97 of the Laws of Zambia),” Chato said.
“Talking ill about the visits and issuing groundless statements will not be in the best interest of the accused persons, their families, friends and ultimately the security of the facility.”
He said the Prisons Authority was determined to accord inmates human conditions despite the shortage of accommodation.
“Mukobeko Maximum Security Facility has a current population of 2, 093 and all these inmates have rights to visits. As a Service, we are trying our level best to ensure that humane treatment is accorded to all inmates regardless of their status. We are trying our level best, despite inadequate accommodation in all our facilities country wide, to meet all requirements of health, lighting, ventilation, sanitation, nutrition, access to clean and portable drinking water, access to open air and physical exercise, personal hygiene, health care and adequate personal space to all inmates without exception,” Chato said.
“Regarding the allegation of visits not being conducive to inmates, all visits are conducted at the visitors’ bay that were designed and constructed for such a purpose and according to Prison rule 132 (2) such visits shall be in the sight and hearing of a Correctional Officer. With regards to lights, it is a standard procedure that all main lights apart from security lights are extinguished at designated times daily.”
He added that inmates had the right to file a complaint.
“However in an event that a prisoner has a complaint or application to be made, we have a system of complaints under Sections 15 and 63 of the Prison Act 97, where the Officer-in-Charge shall ensure that prisoners who have complaints are allowed to make them to him personally on matters related to; Accommodation, Personal hygiene, Clothing and bedding, Food, Exercise and sport, Health-care services and any other matter related to the deprivation of liberty,” said Chato.
“We wish to urge the public not to abuse the privilege of visits through issuance of unfounded statements which can alarm the situation resulting in the restriction of visits.”