Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) is set to introduce a new prison garb, which reflects the organisation’s correctional activities as well as conforms to international standards.
When the Zimbabwe Prisons Service (ZPS) rebranded into the ZPCS, prisons were turned into rehabilitation centres that empower multitudes of inmates with different life-sustaining skills.
The administration of the prisons was decentralised to authorise each province to tailor-make rehabilitation programmes for the benefit of inmates under their prisons.
Inmates are imparted with skills such as carpentry, welding, agriculture, dress making, auto mechanics among others to sustain themselves post-prison life. ZPCS has a number of vocational training centres across the country where inmates are trained as part of the programme to prepare them for life after prison.
In an interview yesterday, ZPCS Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu said although the proposal is yet to get approval from Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, they intend switching to orange in line with the global trend.
“We are working on changing the uniform for our inmates. Although we haven’t come up with the actual colour, we are looking at orange, but we are still yet to submit our proposal to the Minister (Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi),” he said.
“In fact, we are actually looking for a better material which of course doesn’t easily catch dirt and also makes it easy to identify an inmate. The prison garb for inmates easily catches dirt, which is a challenge in terms of resources to keep their uniforms clean.”
In terms of the proposed uniforms, the female inmates shall put a short sleeved round neck top and trousers with round elastic and a full dress all cerise in colour code. The top part of uniforms for both males and females will have an inscription (corrections) in front and back.
Comm-Gen Chihobvu said the proposed new uniform for both male and female inmates, is in line with international standards.
“Changing the uniforms is in line with international standards and since we are now a correctional service, this will also help demystify the general perception about our inmates. Both male and female will have same colours because we want it to be uniform and once the proposal sails through, we will then start implementing it,” he said.
Comm-Gen Chihobvu noted that most Apostolic Faith sects in the country wear white uniforms, which are similar to the prison garbs hence it would make an inmate less recognisable in the event of a jailbreak.
“We also noted that the white colour resembles the uniform of members of the Apostolic Faith sects, which therefore means that when an inmate escapes into the bush, they tend to blend in well will with those congregants. We therefore need to change the colours for our inmates from white to orange,” he said.
Comm-Gen Chihobvu said ZPCS upholds prisoners’ rights, as depicted in the United Nations Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Offenders (now known as The Nelson Mandela Rules).
According to Rule 19 of the Nelson Mandela Rules, every prisoner who is not allowed to wear his or her own clothing shall be provided with an outfit of clothing suitable for the climate and adequate to keep him or her in good health.
Such clothing shall in no manner be degrading or humiliating. All clothing shall be clean and kept in proper condition. Some of the legal standards under that rule say underclothing shall be changed and washed as often as necessary for the maintenance of hygiene.
The rules also stipulate that in exceptional circumstances, whenever a prisoner is removed outside the prison for an authorised purpose, he or she shall be allowed to wear his or her own clothing or other inconspicuous clothing.
Rule 20 says if prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothing, arrangements shall be made on their admission to the prison to ensure that it shall be clean and fit for use.
Rule 21 says every prisoner shall, in accordance with local or national standards, be provided with a separate bed and with separate and sufficient bedding which shall be clean when issued, kept in good order and changed often enough to ensure its cleanliness.
Comm-Gen Chihobvu said the transformation of ZPCS should be reflected on the correctional activities being undertaken at all the country’s 46 facilities.
“We are transforming the organisation, which means prisoners should not been seen continuing to wear the same uniform they wore when we were still the Zimbabwe Prisons Service.
“We are now the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service and therefore the new uniform that we are proposing should be a reflection of the correctional activities that we are undertaking in our facilities,” he said. – @mashnets