LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes
MOTHER of Millions Foundation says it is grateful that President Edgar Lungu has pardoned inmates because it is what the organisation has been advocating.
Speaking in an interview with the Sun, founder Faith Kalungia said the organisation was proud of the President’s decision to pardon over 2,000 prisoners during the commemoration of this year’s Africa Freedom Day.
Ms Kalungila said as an organisation that worked closely with children, women and reintegration in and out of correctional facilities it felt there was urgent need for women to be empowered so that they could live decent lives once pardoned.
She said it was very difficult for inmates to intergrade back into society once they were pardoned.
If not well integrated they found themselves back in prison and most of them faced stigma and discrimination.
“In as much we appreciate the presidential pardons we are appealing to the President through the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services to come up with a revolving fund to help the inmates settle down once they leave correctional facilities.
“This will reduce the rate of retentions as recorded in previous cases due to lack of empowerment capital base, stigma and discrimination from the members of the community. We have witnessed that there is a lot of retention where young girls are pardoned but they return to prison,” she said.
Ms Kalungila said the skills acquired in prison were minimal and the inmates did not have much choice on what skill they were interested in acquiring.
She said that was the reason Mother of Millions had started building a skills centre at the Lusaka Central Correctional Facility (Chimbokayila) female section so that they could help empower women by offering a variety of skills and prepare them before they could be released from prison.
“We embarked on constructing a school at Chibomkayila and a skills centre that would educate and train 1,000 women per year, but this project was halted because we were told about shifting to Mwebeshi Correctional Facility which was a bigger facility.
The project’s total cost was K800,000 and it had reached advanced stage with rooms that would have state-of-the-art computer room, library, the lecture rooms, two baby classrooms, two offices and storerooms as well as ablution block,” Ms Kalungila said.