Correctional officers are no longer torturing inmates because government has also stopped torturing them with poor conditions of service, says Zambia Correctional Services Commissioner General Dr Chileshe Chisela.
Meanwhile, Dr Chisela says meals currently being offered to inmates do not meet all the necessary dietary requirements due to lack of resources.
Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Dr Chisela said torture of inmates was a thing of the past because correctional officers were also relieved of psychological torture when government improved their conditions of service.
“There is no torture per se, except the conditions themselves. Before the conditions of the officers themselves were not changed, they were also being tortured. But this is where we can see that there is a listening government by seeing the infrastructure that has improved tremendously. Look at the housing units, look at the uniforms that officers are wearing, look at the health facilities and the transport that is improving… that entails that the pressure that was put on the mind of the officers which resulted in them executing whatever torture, was psychological, physical or social because of the conditions in which they were living or executing their duties will be a thing of the past,” Dr Chisela said.
And Dr Chisela said inmates were no longer queuing up to use the toilet.
“For officers, I have told them that if an Officer-In-Charge does not build a toilet in a cell and I find that a prisoner has no toilet or bathing facility, that officer in charge will not work with me. It was pathetic at Mukobeko Maximum prison where I found there were only five toilets in one block and another five in the other block and it was catering for 2,000 inmates. It was not acceptable! So I told the Officer-In-Charge and of course my boss was there that time, Mr Percy Chato who did tremendous work and we constructed using our resources 26 toilets. If you go to Maximum today, the inmates can attest that there are no lines. That time, inmates were lining up to go to the toilet, as early as 06:00 AM there is a line of inmates trying to go and empty their bowels and it is unacceptable. So we are going to go full time to ensure that sanitation is improved. It must be priority that water and sanitation should be provided,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Chisela said the service could not meet the dietary requirements of inmates due to budget constraints.
“We are running a budget of about K46 million per year and our population keeps on increasing, then pricing units for various commodities keep on increasing. So we try to work and feed our inmates within that amount. But we are trying to address that, my coming in and with our hard working officers, we will try to feed our prisoners. The prescribed diet (of Milk, Maize meal, cocoa and fresh vegitables for prisoners) is not attainable at the moment. The inmates [only] ate meat on Christmas, but that is not acceptable. We could be in breach of the act and we are trying to address that breach. If there is one institution which is rich is ourselves, where we have human resource and land. And apparently, in places were we have these correctional facilities, there are water bodies and there is no reason why we cannot have fish ponds. There is no reason why we cannot have poultry, piggery. So I think the members of command are listening and my Officers in charge,” Dr Chisela said.
He also highlighted some of the revenue generating ventures the service had embarked on.
“We have a milling company that produces 80 metric tonnes per day, but we haven’t done so well and there is room to improvement. We are therefore expanding, this year we are going to increase on the hectorage, we will make up a farm that will be called ‘a Correctionals farm’. So I have appointed a director in charge of agriculture to ensure that we are going to open 25 hectors of land in Isoka and Mporokoso where we are going to do raching and we are going to open up Kitumba farm block, 4,000 hectors of land for maize. Additionally, we are having the irrigation programmes that are 1,400, which we are going to be producing cash crops such as wheat, rice, soya beans and other cash crops apart from the maize that is our staple,” said Dr Chisela.
“Then I have appointed a director in charge of industry. We realised that we could be a supper power. I am delighted, I am going to engage with the Minister of Higher Education, Professor Nkandu Luo so that we can be an institution that can produce desks and tables or furniture for our higher schools. The Professor was saying she has money and we can make money. We are going to have industries like block making industries, which will open in this first quarter in Kabwe, which will be producing blocks, pavers and all sorts of building materials. We are going to have a construction unit that will be in charge of infrastructure and you will see that we are going to demonstrate that starting this year by building perhaps our own Headquarters and perhaps the Kabwe Maximum correctional facility using our labour. We have demonstrated that, if you went to Kamfinsa, you will see that we have increased the bed capacity by 600 using our own labour.”