A remanded person awaiting trial at Livingstone central prison, Zambia says he fears an outbreak of cholera and scabies may soon ravage inmates due to congestion and poor sanitation.
A letter to this KC from the inmate dated 7 November, which was smuggled out of the prison by the inmate’s relatives, states that the slow rate of court case disposal is causing congestion. The prisoner says people are spending up to as long as 18 months in custody awaiting trial.
The letter reads: “Nothing tangible is being done except the usual rhetoric, speeches that only end up into news items. Due to congestion prison inmates have only one meal a day. Food and sanitation has not improved. It really leaves much to be desired.
“Convicts and remanded persons are locked up at 16:00 hours to smell human waste from broken sewer mini-holes until the next day at 9:00 hours. Unless sanitation is improved, cholera and scabies may ravage the prison population.”
The prisoner further challenges human rights bodies, non-governmental organisations, churches and government leaders to visit and interview prisoners to find out the challenges being faced.
The letter continues: “This prison is more hell on earth than ever. Can the government please take principal steps to fasten up [sic] disposal of court cases to decongest the prisons rather than the usual political statements we hear through the media?”
“This [the long delay for trials] causes unnecessary congestion as the number of remanded persons is almost half that of convicts. In our neighbouring countries for instance cases are disposed of in 48 hours, can’t we do the same?”