The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) is struggling to feed and provide medical attention to inmates due to shortages of food and drugs, officials have said.

This emerged at a Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) consultative meeting held in Bulawayo yesterday to assess living conditions in Zimbabwe’s prisons and mental health institutions.

ZPCS provincial commanders, Ingutsheni Psychiatric Hospital and Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital officials were invited to share their experiences and challenges from their respective institutions.

The ZPCS commanders indicated that all prisons shared the same challenges of food, toiletry, clothing, medicine and incapacitation, all blamed on the hyperinflationary environment prevailing in the country.

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Present at the consultative meeting were commanders from Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

ZPCS deputy officer commanding Matabeleland South, Assistant Commissioner Mehlulelwa Ngwenya said prisons were facing food and medication challenges.

“We are facing serious challenges, we cannot adequately feed our inmates, neither are we able to treat them due to lack of medicine in our institutions,” Ngwenya said.

The issue of lack of a balanced diet was said to have resulted in malnutrition among inmates.

The prisons officials admitted that they had no vehicles to transport inmates to the courts.

“We are highly incapacitated. We cannot take our inmates to court on time, hence violating their rights,” Ngwenya said.

Ingutsheni psychiatric doctor, Wellington Ranga, questioned the ZPCS chiefs on how they handled inmates with mental health problems when they did not have psychiatric nurses or psychologists within the institutions, at the same time claiming to be rehabilitation centres.

Ngwenya said as ZPCS, they did not have the capacity to recruit psychiatric nurses or psychologists.

ZPCS was also challenged on how they were properly managing their soccer team, Whawha FC, which was elevated to the Premier Soccer League yet failing to employ psychiatrists.