Prisons record 100 Covid positive cases among inmates, officers

ZAMBIA Correctional Service commissioner general Chisela Chileshe says the service has recorded about 100 cases of COVID-19.

And Eastern Province permanent secretary Veronica Mwiche says the transformation of the prison service into correction service has brought a lot of positive changes.

Addressing journalists at Namuseche Correctional Facility in Chipata on Wednesday, Dr Chileshe, who is on a tour of Eastern Province, said COVID-19 has not spared the service.

“Zambia Correctional Service has two facets; the officers and the inmates. In terms of Covid pandemic, we are also affected. Some of our officers are infected and some of our inmates are infected. So when we are talking about countrywide, we have about 100 Covid positive cases and that gives almost 50 – 50 the numbers for the inmates as well as the officers,” he said. “What is encouraging is that most of the cases are asymptomatic so even those that are infected are actually in good health. We lost one life here in Namuseche Correctional Facility as a result of Covid related illnesses.”

Dr Chileshe said correctional facilities outside Lusaka also recorded COVID-19 cases.

“We have seen that even in the rural places, the Covid cases are high, which entails that there is a lot of movement of people from one place to the other,” he said. “Our appeal is that people should not just move aimlessly, without any objective so that only movements of emergency nature can be done.”

Dr Chileshe said from since year, close to 6,000 inmates were pardoned while others have had their sentences commuted by President Edgar Lungu.

And when he paid a courtesy call on Eastern Province permanent secretary Mwiche, Dr Chileshe said the welfare of officers was good.

He said the government provided uniforms and vehicles.

He said the correctional service in Eastern Province came out first in maize production in the country.

Dr Chileshe also said it was good that the Zambia Correctional Service Commission was now in place.

“We were struggling to ensure that our officers are promoted, confirmed or transferred while those who are retiring are retired on time and so many things that are attached to the day-to-day activities and I am happy to inform the PS that yesterday (Tuesday) we were privileged to receive the members of the Zambia Correctional Service Commission,” said Dr Chileshe. “So it is a very big morale booster and we can only say thanks to the President because this has been a cry for almost four years without having a service commission.”

And Mwiche said the change of names from prison service to correctional service had brought a lot of transformation.

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