ZIMBABWE Prisons and Correctional Service, Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, arts ambassador and director of Inside Out has challenged the community to assist inmates during these trying times of Covid-19 era.
Clarence Garura, made these remarks after visiting inmates at Khami Complex, where he later donated consumables for inmates.
In an interview, Garura said the community had the mandate to assist the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) in the rehabilitation of inmates for their successful re-integration back into society, when they complete their jail terms.
“A lot of people out there believe that it is only the duty of ZPCS to rehabilitate inmates but that is wrong as this is a task that requires the effort of the community as a whole.
“Our input is actually needed at this point in time when the prison authorities stopped conducting visits in all prisons in a bid to control the spread of the deadly pandemic coronavirus,”he said.
Garura said as the arts ambassador of the province he discovered that it was part of his mandate to mobilise resources to assist inmates, who are no longer getting visits more regularly. From these visits inmates got supplements to use while in prison and in most cases they got toiletries.
“I have interacted with inmates for a very long time and the experience that I got from them shows that relatives of these inmates help a lot in terms of providing them with supplements to use while in prison.
“So the suspension of these visits meant that life was going to be a bit difficult for them. As the ambassador I teamed up with my partners and we decided to buy some toiletries for the inmates as a way of promoting cleanliness and reducing the chances of spreading the virus among the inmates,”he said.
Garura said the quantities of goods that they bought might have not been enough to cater for all the inmates but they managed to buy products that included washing powder, soap, tissues and sanitisers for inmates to use.
“As Inside Out, we engaged our partners and we managed to raise a few items for the inmates but it was our wish to provide for all of them since they have been disadvantaged by this pandemic.
“So on behalf of the inmates I am challenging the business community and the community in general to partner ZPCS in assisting inmates as a way of rehabilitating them for their successful re-integration back to the community,”he said.
Garura said forging such partnerships between ZPCS and the community was another way of promoting the acceptance of inmates in our community despite the fact that they would have wronged the same community.
“The reason why we are inviting the community into such an initiative is because we would like the community to give these guys another chance while they are still in prison. The major challenge that we see out there is that the community is not comfortable when an ex-convict mentions that he was once in prison.
“So we are saying as a community can we come together and put our resources together in assisting our fellow brothers and sisters who are in different prisons countrywide,”he said.
The provincial arts ambassador said their donations were given to both male and female prisoners at Khami Complex as a way of balancing gender among the inmates as they all deserve the same treatment.
“When we thought of donating we realised that it was important to balance when it comes to the issue of gender so we managed to make a donation at Khami remand and Mlondolozi prisons.
“Our aim was to show the community that we have got both males and female inmates who require different issues when it comes to the issue of donating products for use while in prison,” he said.
Garura said besides the donation they also spearheaded the communication of inmates with their relatives through voice and video calling while in prison as a way of strengthening the relations of the two parties.
“Inmates have also been affected by the lockdown that stopped their relatives from visiting them. So in bridging that gap we came up with an idea of giving these inmates an opportunity to communicate with their relatives through phones.
“This has really worked as inmates are up to date in terms of their families who are outside prison and this has been really helpful to even the relatives who are outside prison,” he said.
The arts ambassador said they were going to continue coming up with better ways of assisting inmates during these trying times of Covid-19.
“We are working on different measures that we are going to be proposing to the management of ZPCS as we work towards assisting these inmates in terms of adjusting to the new normal of the Covid era,” he said.
Reverend Godwin Saungweme of World Pentecostal Evangelism, a partner of Inside Out, also urged the business community to come forward and partner ZPCS in rehabilitating inmates.
“From a church’s point of view I would like to urge more churches to come foward and work with us as we work towards assisting our brothers and sisters who are in different prisons countrywide.
“The donation that we made at Khami Complex is just to show these guys that even if we are in Covid era we still remember them at all times and I hope our gesture will go a long way,” he said.