Thursday, February 28, 2013

HRC refutes inmates' deaths at Mukobeko

HRC refutes inmates' deaths at Mukobeko
By Moses Kuwema and Abigail Sitenge
Thu 28 Feb. 2013, 13:03 CAT

THE Human Rights Commission says no inmate died at Mukobeko maximum prison as alleged by Kasempa MMD member of parliament Kabinga Pande.

In a statement, Human Rights Commission chief information, education and training officer Samuel Kasankha stated that in line with its mandate, the commission conducted its own investigations to verify the truth and found that no single inmate died as alleged.

"The commission found, as a fact, that some confusion did occur within a wing of the condemned section following resistance by the inmates to being subjected to body searches by the authorities. The body searches had been necessitated by a recent escape from the same section by three inmates on death row. Body searches are conducted periodically as part of prison regulations to ensure that objects that are not permitted do not find their way inside the prisons," Kasankha stated.

He stated that the inmates resisted the search on the basis that the recruits (trainee warders) who were detailed to conduct it were too young to undress them.

He stated that this led to a "mutinous and uproarious situation" that compelled officers to throw a teargas canister into the cell holding the inmates and then "baton charge" them to bring the situation under control.

Kasankha stated that prior to this, the inmates had blown the light bulb in the cell and were holding some of the trainee warders 'hostage'.

He stated that the operation to rescue the trainee warders and restore order naturally resulted in some injuries to both inmates and some officers.

Kasankha stated that the HRC investigation team conducted a roll call by going to each cell to verify that all the inmates in the prison register were alive and present in the cells, but that the only missing inmates were the three who had escaped.

He stated that the team also interviewed inmates who confirmed that no one had died following the fracas.

On one inmate who died during the same period of the confusion, the HRC established the inmate was asthmatic and had been receiving regular medical attention throughout his stay in the prison.

Kasankha stated that a postmortem has since been conducted to which, unfortunately, the commission was "not yet privy".

He however, stated that the inmate was not from the condemned section where beatings had occurred.

And briefing the press yesterday, home affairs deputy minister Alfridah Kansembe said the prisoner who died at the time the search was conducted had been isolated at the sick bay.

"The only death we are aware of involves one male prisoner, namely Henry Mwami Mpanga who died on 14th February 2012 in the sick bay. The deceased was first taken to Kabwe General Hospital on 23rd November 2012 after suffering from headache and coughing and was in and out of hospital…" Kansembe said.

She said a postmortem was carried out last Friday and her ministry was awaiting the result.

She urged the media to be factual in their reporting.

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