Since Retired Major General Paradzai Willings Zimondi assumed control of the Prison service, prison conditions have reached an extreme of cruelty and deprivation. Death by enforced starvation and the withholding of medical attention is nothing less than murder in the first degree.

The trusted Mugabe right hand man brought in and appointed corrupt generals and colonels, lacking administrative skills, required to run the commanding heights of the Zimbabwe Prison Service, a move which has led to this decay we witness today.

Things got worse when he brought in Retired Major (Woman) Kanonge to head the finance department, Retired Major Madzimure to head Transport, Retired Major Dube to head construction department, Retired Major Ndebele to head the quartermaster’s department, Retired Major Makuvire to head procurement department, Retired Major Chihobvu to head Intelligence, Retired Major Seulah, Retired corporal Maramba, retired corporal Mafuta, Retired Major Sibanda, Retired corporal Chirombo, Retired WO2 Muzanechita, Retired coronel Maredza, Retired Major Vincent Ndlovu and many more.

Most of Zimbabwe’s top military brass are veterans of the 1970s liberation war against white minority rule and are fiercely loyal to ZANU PF.

As for new recruits into the force, priority was given to the Mugabe’s hated youth militias, there is little hope that the Prison Service will become an impartial body in any near future.

The militia training camps, which have been in existence since 2001, are places where school leavers are imbued with “patriotic values” as defined by the ruling party. Graduates from these camps, known as Green Bombers from their distinctive olive green uniforms, have been used to terrorise government opponents at successive elections inside the prison and outside.

“The retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi should be arrested now and face trial for crimes against humanity”.

I am disturbed by the arrest and harassment of Junior Officers Thabiso Nyathi (35), Siyai Muchechedzi (35) and Thembinkosi Nkomo (28). They were arrested on Friday on charges under the Official Secrets Act, which prescribes lengthy jail terms for government employees who leak state secrets.

The three should be released with immediate effect and UN should intervene now.

In the name of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights, Commissioner Zimondi and his Deputy Commissioners, Retired Major Vincent Ndlovu and Washington Chimboza should be arrested for crimes against humanity – and, while awaiting arraignment by a SADC or European Court of Justice, they should be detained in their own jails.

The main causes of prisoners’ deaths included reduced meals, shortage of drugs and poor health environment in our prisons.

Prisoners went for days without a meal and were occasionally supplied with food only meant to keep a person alive such as the staple sadza (a thick porridge made from maize meal) and salted, unclean water.

More often than not, inmates in many of the country’s jails have to survive on a single meal in two to three days of sadza and cabbage boiled in dirty salted water because there is no money to buy adequate supplies. This led to an outbreak of pellagra disease that slaughtered over a thousand inmates around the country.

Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease caused by shortage of vitamin B3 and protein.

The functions of the Zimbabwe Prison Service are derived from the mission statement and the broad functions of the ZPS are as follows: To protect society from the criminal elements through the incarceration and rehabilitation of offenders for their successful re-integration into society, while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control. Offenders come to prison as punishment and not to be punished

In the ZPS we believed that offenders need to be given a second chance through rehabilitation.

Conditions in our prisons are inhuman. The new government must act swiftly to address this situation or else the prime minister will be sucked into this mess. Every single day they spend without acting will be blood on their hands.

It makes me cry to know that the cabinet is being sworn in while one of them is being added to the tally of prisoners.

I appeal to the International community to intervene before the three youngsters are tortured to death. I know they are chasing after my head but the truth will be told even if they kill me.

Shepherd Yuda