—Minister of Home Affairs Edgar Lungu has called on Zambians not to stigmatize ex-prisoners but to instead assist them to reintegrate smoothly into society.
Mr. Lungu said the release of prisoners from prison was a clear demonstration of compassion and kind-heartedness of President Michael Sata and the Patriotic Front government hence communities should accept ex-convicts wholeheartedly.
He said this today when he presented donated assorted goods to persons who were discharged from prison under the presidential amnesty (Parole) at Lusaka Central Prisons.
He said government was committed to supporting the reintegration of discharged prisoners.
Mr. Lungu said government recognizes the importance of taking care of vulnerable persons that have been released from prisons.
He observed that in the past, successive governments had neglected the prisons service, the welfare of inmates in prisons and persons that were discharged from prisons.
The Minister said it was always not easy for ex-prisoners to reintegrate into society as they may not have a starting point for them to live a de cent life thereafter.
He has since called for the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee that will address the needs of viable persons who have been released from prison.
He added that he has made prior consultations with the Ministry of Community Development, Ministry Youth and Sport, Ministry of Gender and other stakeholders to nominate respective persons who together will undertake the day to day planning for the after-care needs.
Mr. Lungu has since appealed to well wishers and other stakeholders to take responsibility of the ex-prisoners as they return from prison to join society.
He further encouraged ex-prisoners to become productive and responsible members of society.
And Prisons Care and Counseling Executive Director Godfrey Malembeka, who received the assorted goods that included bags of mealie meal, clothes and blankets on behalf of the 35 ex-prisoners, thanked government for the donated.
Mr. Malembeka, who praised the PF government for being the first government to help the discharged prisoners, promised on behalf of the ex-prisoners never to get back to crime.
He said in the past, there has been no effective reintegration support from government.
He said government’s gesture demonstrates its willingness to help the ex-prisoners become better and productive citizens.