Dogs are better than Zambian prisoners, says M’membe

Post newspaper editor Fred M’membe says prisoners in Zambia are treated worse than dogs and other animals.

M’membe who has just been been released from the Chimbokaila prison has also vowed to continue his work as a journalist.

M’membe told journalists outside the Lusaka Central prison after seeing the outside world since Friday that ‘this is who I am”. Asked whether he will give up writing, M’membe said ‘never, never, never.’

He said “our dogs, pigs and chickens live better than prisoners’ when asked to comment on the prison conditions.

He also said that the judiciary needs a clean-up.

M’membe was granted a K20 million bail in his own recognizance.

Magistrate David Simusamba granted M’membe bail with two working sureties pending his appeal to the High Court.
M’membe was on Friday sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour.

A few weeks ago, a report by Human Rights Watch and two African human rights groups stated that inmates in Zambia’s prisons are commonly stripped naked and held in solitary confinement in small, windowless cells, sometimes for days on end, in ankle-to-calf-high water contaminated with their own excrement.

Prisoners routinely live in overcrowded cells where there is no room to lie down at night, leaving them to sleep in shifts, pressed against one another, according to the report, which describes Zambian prisons as “death traps” beset by overcrowding, malnutrition and rampant disease.

Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison, built in 1950 for a capacity of 400, held 1,731 inmates, the report said. Lusaka Central prison, built in 1923 for 200, contained 1,145 people. Prisoners told investigators that their bodies were “packed like pigs,” “squeezed like logs in a pile,” or “like fish in a refrigerator.”

On a continent afflicted by widespread poverty and fierce competition for government resources, prisons have long been neglected, and prison conditions are often abominable.

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