Over 160 inmates among them 17 prohibited immigrants (PIs) at the Nchelenge State Prison in Luapula Province are sharing one toilet posing a danger for the outbreak of a communicable disease.
Nchelenge District acting Prisons Officer-In-Charge Chief Inspector Coltridah Hagwagwa disclosed this when Home Affairs Deputy Minister Nickson Chilangwa toured the reformatory institution last week.
Ms Hagwagwa said at establishment in 1961, Nchelenge State Prison was only meant to accommodate 15 inmates but noted that it is now home to the 148 indigenous inmates and the 17 PIs from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
She told the Deputy Minister that 55 inmates were made to share one holding cell because of the inadequate space at the reformatory institution while all of them share one toilet to answer the call of nature.
Ms Hagwagwa said out of the total number of inmates currently in custody, 15 are women and five of them are among the PIs from the Congo DR.
She added that the cases for the 80 remandees and the 17 PIs from Congo DR have stalled because the court has not been sitting for closer to two months now because the only resident magistrate is sick.
Chief Inspector Hagwagwa further attributed the congestion at the State Prison to the larger catchment area that stretch from Chienge District and Kaputa in the Northern Province, and the Congo DR.
She also revealed that Nchelenge State Prison is understaffed and said out of the establishment of 25 officers, there is a deficit of eight officers.
Ms Hagwagwa appealed to the government to deploy more staff and also provide prisoners uniforms.
She also stated that Nchelenge State Prison needs a big vehicle that could help in the movement of inmates especially when there is need to move them to other stations such as Kawambwa or Mansa as a way of mitigating congestion.
And Home Affairs Deputy Minister Nickson Chilangwa says the prisons in Zambia are not good for people and urged inmates at Nchelenge State Prison to repent.
“Be remorseful and change for the better to win your freedom,” Mr. Chilangwa told the inmates.
Mr. Chilangwa said some inmates are in custody because of the inability to defend themselves and added that it is for this reason that even in incarceration, they must be treated with dignity.
He said the government is doing everything possible to better the conditions of living in prisons but noted that it is a process that cannot be achieved in one day.
The Deputy Minister told the inmates to put God first and desist from engaging in vices that may prolong their stay in prison.
Mr. Chilangwa said good behaviour and respect for prison officers is the only key for inmates to earn their freedom through parole or amnesty.