The “horrible” food served in Zimbabwe’s prisons has caused health problems for prisoners, with some developing pellagra due to nutritional deficiencies, according to Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of Transform Zimbabwe.

The opposition leader was sentenced to 48 months in prison last year on April 28 for allegedly leading protests against government corruption, but was acquitted on December 11, 2022, after spending eight months in prison.

Ngarivhume, who was incarcerated at Harare Central, stated that some prisoners who develop stomach ulcers after eating bad food have to relieve themselves on the cell floors because they will already be locked up all night.

This morning on Asakhe, an X space hosted by CITE on Tuesday, Ngarivhume claimed that many prisoners suffered from illnesses linked to the bad food served in prison.

“The conditions in prison are very bad. There has been no improvement at all. I was in prison in Chikurubi (for a previous conviction) and nothing has changed since then. Rather, conditions have deteriorated.”

The opposition leader recounted how prison meals come “with no cooking oil and very little salt.”

“They boil what’s available, if it’s cabbage, which is usually the most common meal they prepare, they boil it. They add a little salt, nothing else, no tomatoes, nothing that adds to the flavour. Ultimately, the prisoners suffer from pellagra.” .

“Pellagra is the result of a protein and fat deficiency, and your body eats away as it tries to correct this situation, and large pieces of your skin peel off.”

Ngarivhum claimed to have seen 25 prisoners with pellagra.

“It was terrible. I had to put about five or seven of them in my take-home meals,” he said, adding that prison officials pick cabbage to feed prisoners even though it is sprayed to kill ticks.

“When you spray, you have to wait 14 days or so before you pick, but they never wait. They will be under stress so they prepare and cook the cabbage before the 14 days are up. Most of the prisoners suffer from serious stomach disorders.

According to the opposition leader, prisoners are locked up for 17 hours a day, from 3 p.m. until 8 a.m., so if some people get a stomach ache and can’t get to the toilet, they have to relieve themselves in that cell.

“There will be 70 of you in that room, with people messing up the floors, and you have to put up with that until the next day. The next day comes with no urgency and no action is taken. Because the cabbage is not good, people keep having stomach upsets and you have the same The problem: “Until you decide not to eat cabbage during the night and only eat it in the morning when it is served, you will have an upset stomach during the day,” Ngarivumi said.

“Running a prison this way is unbelievable. It’s inhumane and inhumane. We’ve been through it.”

Ngarivhum also stated that the prison’s space was limited.

“I own a medium-density house, the size of a bedroom that I share with my wife. In prison, that space is enough for 40 of us. “You suffer humiliation every day,” he said.

“Prison hospitals also do not contain medicines, and in most cases I had to buy medicines for my fellow prisoners.”

Ngarivum said he met other political prisoners, explaining that “the regime was persecuting political opponents just like me.”

“I met six comrades from Mthwakazi (Republican Party). We discussed a lot and this shows the absurd accusations and that the system in this day and age is still oppressing people,” the opposition leader said.

“Obviously there are judges and magistrates present in the captive courts. You would not have committed a crime after being subject to those conditions. It is terrible, even if you commit a crime, you have rights in terms of having (better) conditions.”

Meanwhile, Ngarivhum said his party would send representatives to deliver food parcels to prisoners.

He added: “These representatives are heading towards our comrades who we left in prison and will provide them with food today and tomorrow. Some people will deliver food to Harare Central Center and in the next two days, they will go to Chikurubi. “These are efforts by well-wishers to support the prisoners and I appreciate them,” he said.

One X space program participant admitted that prison conditions were deplorable, having witnessed them during the Prison Ministry’s crusades.

“While I was still in Zimbabwe, we were doing a prison service. If you look at the majority of our prisons, they were built before independence. They were not built to accommodate the current numbers and that creates pressure,” Edward Njabulo said.

“The country should put in place policies, perhaps to rebuild, expand or expand, especially the Khami prison which was built before Ian Smith came.” Site

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