Prisoners have rights in Zambia..
ZAMBIA is grappling with the greusome report of a prisoner who allegedly raped, killled and buried several women while he was on “holiday”.
Contrary to social media reports, Police in Kabwe revealed that prison escapee Joseph Chiteta and his accomplice, Miles Malaya (another inmate), are suspected to have murdered at least 9 people in Kitwe and Kabwe.
Reportedly, three out of the 9 bodies buried in shallow graves by Chiteta and his accomplice around the Mukobeko prison farms have since been exhumed.
Police re-arrested Chiteta on Sunday 23 May 2021 in the Fisenge area.
Further information that has emerged is that Chiteta, 53, and Miles Malaya, currently serving jail sentences at Mukobeko maximum correctional facility and medium correctional facility respectively for various offences, are behind the murder of several women.
Central Province Commissioner of Police Chola Katanga said Chiteta, who escaped lawful custody on April 7, 2021, was apprehended on the Copperbelt after committing a string of other criminal offences there, and that he has since been moved to Kabwe Central Police where he joined his accomplice, Malaya, who was fished out from Mukobeko Medium Correctional Facility to help with investigations.
While it is easy to point fingers at the Zambia Correctional Service, it would be prudent to bear in mind that there has been an active attempt to reform inmates into valuable members of society.
The penetentiary is meant to act as a rehabilitation facility where inmate’s human rights are protected and hence the move to allow more freedoms.
The Head of the Zambia Corrections Service clarified that the proposal to start allowing inmates serving life sentences a two-week vacation to visit their families is yet to be signed into law.
Dr Chisela Chileshe told journalists that the proposal is contained in the Zambia Correctional Services Bill 2021 which is yet to be signed into law.
News that inmates serving life sentences will be granted two week vacations on good behavior has been met by uproar with many stakeholders saying the move will pose security risks to society.
But Dr Chileshe clarified that he did not state that President Edgar Lungu had signed into law the piece of legislation that will operationalise the provision that allows inmates to take vacations.
He said what is true however is that there are provisions in the Bill which are looking at improving in mate welfare and vacations are also provided for in the proposed law.
Dr Chileshe admitted that even the soon to be repealed Zambia Prisons Act has some progressive provisions which were over looked.
“Even in the old at Act, provisions are there to administer the welfare of inmates. We have been revising these laws and our Bill went into Parliament and went through all the stages but it is not yet to be signed into an Act,” Dr Chileshe said.
He added, “in the new way of doing things, we are talking about good governance and good practices in the general administration of inmate’s welfare. There are Articles that offer provisions for licenses to be released on condition that the inmates fulfill the conditions.”.
“If they commit an offence, then their license is revoked. The Commissioner General has the right to give an inmate time to go and attend to personal, family matters and this time is determined and granted by the Office of the Commissioner General depending on circumstances. This is not strange, it’s enshrined in the Bill and the Act to be. This is good governance and its about managing inmate’s welfare. This has nothing to do with elections, these are the enshrined in our laws.
Dr Chileshe said the soon to be Corrections Act will improve the way to administer the inmates.
“We have put in place what we refer to as the Mandela rules. We won’t be stopped by circumstances. I didn’t say President Lungu has invoked provision to send inmates leave to go and enjoy themselves but I was merely stating the positive provisions contained in the Bill.”
As part of the 2021 Africa Freedom Day commemoration, the Head of State pardoned 579 inmates in a bid to restore their dignity and allow them to be embraced back into society.
We cannot deny the importance of having criminals reform and the acts of two should not form the basis of discrimination against those who have spent time in jail.
All citizens have the right to life and with it comes basis rules to adhere to, if you find yourself at variance with the law, one must be assured of a fair trial.
Once sentenced, the objective is reform and not punishment.
You never know when you may find yourself behind bars and so the best option is to promote the rights and freedoms of every citizen, regardless of their situation.