Overcrowding, disease and prisoners starving to death - the shocking revelations of secret filming in Zimbabwe's prisons over the past 3 months. The government is appealing for aid. Will it arrive in time?
'We got one meal a day, everyone was emaciated,' says politician Rory Bennett 'it was like being in a prisoner of war camp'. Whilst imprisoned, Rory was shocked by inmates like Brighton - only 28, he has severe malnutrition and tuberculosis. He's half-way through serving 18 months for robbery but seems unlikely to get out alive. 'His cellmates are sick and they keep infecting each other' says a warden. At least 20 prisoners are dying in the countries 55 prisons every day, with 30,000 prisoners squashed into facilities for half this amount. Beitbridge doesn't have severe overcrowding, because so many of its prisoners have died. 'Sometimes we pile 3 bodies in a grave' says a prison warden. More often than not, they call upon the families, who must search through a pile of bodies in the Beitbridge laundry room before finding their relative. The authorities acknowledge the crisis and are appealing to the Ministry of Finance as well as The Red Cross for aid. But the problem is about respect as much as finance. 'The government has to realise that being in prison isn't a death sentence', says a human rights worker.