50 percent of Zimbabwe prisoners died of hunger, disease in last 1 year

May 19th, 2009 - 3:51 pm ICT by ANI  

Harare, May 19 (ANI): At least 700 out of the 1300 inmates in Zimbabwe’s maximum security jail have died of starvation or disease in the last year.

Due to its death rate, Chikurubi prison, located on the outskirts of Harare, has been touted as one of the worst jails in history.

On Sunday alone, six prisoners were found dead in their filthy cell, while the same number died last weekend due to revolting conditions.

Some 100 bodies, many of them mutilated by rats, are stacked up in the prison mortuary. If they are unclaimed, they will be buried as paupers in the prison grounds, The Telegraph reports.

The collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy has crippled the prison system, leaving thousands of inmates with scarcely any food. The provision of medical care has also collapsed, leaving prisoners to die of starvation and disease.

Chikurubi packs about 30 inmates into cells designed for only 10, the paper reported.

A jail warder revealed that the mortality rate in other prisons of the country was almost the same.

“It’s the same at all the rest of the prisons around the country. We often find six died at a time. A lot have AIDS, but die quickly because they don’t have enough food,” he said.

Between November and January, 327 deaths were recorded at Chikurubi - almost a quarter of all the inmates.

The commissioner in charge of jails, Major-General Paradzai Zimondi (a close aide of President Robert Mugabe), is blamed for not doing his job properly.

“He has never been to see what is going on in Chikurubi. He doesn’t care,” the paper quoted the warder, as saying. (ANI)

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