In the past week there has been a serious talk about how Johanna Mamombe who is in a remand prison was treated. The issue was bordering on the video clip which went around and flooded the social media.
In the video Mamombe the MDC A member of parliament is seen in a private hospital bed. Some men in prison uniform came in and with authority demanded that Mamombe should be taken back to the prison.
There was a lot of disgust and outrage, people asked why did the prison officers treat a lady who is sick in that manner.
Firstly it will help us to understand that the treatment of prisoners is governed by the Prison Act section 64 “Prisoners are in lawful custody of officer in charge Every person confined in a prison shall be in the lawful custody of the officer in charge thereof and, subject to this Act, shall remain in such lawful custody and be subject to prison discipline and to this Act during the whole period of his imprisonment, whether he is or is not within the precincts of a prison.”
So it is therefore clear that at all times Mamombe was in the rightful custody of the Chikurubi prison officer in charge.
The brief history is that the detained MDC-Alliance youth leader and Harare West MP, Joana Mamombe, has suffered an acute stomach pain while in her prison cell. The young female lawmaker Was then rushed to a local hospital where she was expected to get medical attention.
When the officer in charge was satisfied that she has received adequate medication she sent officers to return the prisoner back to her cell.
Then there was drama as MDC Alliance legislator Joana Mamombe refused to leave the hospital where she was admitted to return to prison.
When prison officers came to the hospital to take her back to prison, she was adamant that she was not going anywhere since she was still in pain.
It is not with surprise that Mamombe refused to return back to prison. She is an attention seeker. In her drama there was a camera person ready and available to capture the noise and spread it on social media.
The unfortunate thing was that Mamombe was treated with dignity allowed to attend a clinic of her choice. But she chose to repay the good deed of the Officer in charge by creating a drama which was meant to soil the human rights records of Zimbabwe.
By being allowed to attend to a hospital of her choice was a favour not a right but Mamombe has shown the Officer in Charge that she can not be trusted.
At every opportunity she gets Mamombe creates a drama and does her best to present Zimbabwe in a very dark frame. In Zimbabwe Prisoners get the same healthcare and treatment as anyone outside of prison.
Treatment is free but has to be approved by a prison doctor or member of the healthcare team.
Prisons do not have hospitals, but many have in-patient beds.
Most problems are dealt with by the healthcare team. If they cannot, the prison may get an expert to visit the prison and or arrange for treatment in an outside hospital.
The healthcare team can ask the prisoner’s family doctor for their records, but only if the prisoner agrees to it. Depending on the sickness Prisoners can get specialist support, for example if they: have drug or alcohol problems have HIV or AIDS are disabled or have a learning difficulty or have an acute sickness.
Mamombe was given a discretion which was in her favour but she decided to abuse the freedom given to her.
A prisoner can refuse treatment. However, the healthcare team may choose to give treatment if the prisoner is not capable of making decisions themselves (for example they have a mental health condition).
Wherever possible, the healthcare team will discuss this with the prisoner’s family first.
Health and justice services therefore work closely together to achieve these shared aims.
Offenders in the remand prison are generally expected to access the same healthcare services as the rest of the local population.
Some six thousand men and women are imprisoned in Zimbabwe every year. Most of these prisoners are from poor and vulnerable communities.
Prisons are not healthy places.
Communicable diseases are frequently transmitted among prisoners, and the rates of HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis are much higher among them than in the general population. There is also a high prevalence of mental health problems, including substance abuse disorders, and a higher prevalence of noncommunicable diseases.
Unhealthy conditions such as overcrowding and poor hygiene are common in many prisons.Prison health is part of public health and prisons are part of our society. One third of prisoners leave prison every year and the interaction between prisons and society is huge.
To this end the government ensures that prisons are not becoming breeding places for communicable and noncommunicable diseases, and Zimbabwe government also seek to use the experience of imprisonment for the benefit of prisoners and society.
The Prison Service aims at improving public health and reducing health inequalities. It considers that social values such as human rights and equity are the key to good governance for health. The action taken by the prisons is plausible.
They have shown that when it comes to health Zimbabwe prisons does not look at political inclination of the prisoner.
In normal circumstances if it was a ZANU PF member who was granted leave to be treated by a private clinic MDC will be crying corruption. The release of Mamombe in the first place was a plausible action by the Zimbabwe Prisons.
This also applies to prison health, with no compromise. When a state deprives people of their liberty, it must guarantee their right to health and provide them with the best possible care. So allowing Mamombe to be attended by private doctors is a clear sign that the Prisons do respect the rights of the prisoners.
Contrary to the noise being made by the MDC A and its wailers the Prisons is making a major step towards promoting the health and well-being of prisoners in our country and as an important contribution to better public health and to fewer health inequalities. All people have the right to quality health care… Health for All is not a long-term wish, but an urgent priority to build a safer, healthier future… People and communities who have been historically marginalized must come first. The prisons is mandated to take custody of the prisoners ans this is an order from the court.
In Zimbabwe only two offices can lawfully discharge a prisoner from prison. This is the courts and the President. The president being the highest authority in the country can pardon prisoners thereby releasing them from the bondage.
Zimbabwe prisons have seen a substantial increase in women prisoners in recent years. Despite this increase, women prisoners constitute a minority in male dominated prison environments, and their special health needs are often neglected.
Much research work has been conducted around the rights of prisoners and detainees the world over, Zimbabwe is no exception. On this basis, it is important that compliance to national, regional, and international standards on the rights afforded to prisoners are not only observed but also respected, protected and fulfilled. Zimbabwe has shown that it can even be a better human rights advocate. It has shown the world a way forward that allow hourly prisoners to get private special treatment.
The government looks into the rights of prisoners in Zimbabwe and the Government of Zimbabwe’s obligation to respect and attain the highest standards for persons regarded as prisoners is fully observed.
Researchers have shown that there are a number of reasons why prisoners should have the right to health. First, It is held that deprivation of health care to a prisoner constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Second, provision of quality health care by the State is the only available option that a prisoner has.
Third, provision of health care improves the health of a prisoner which in turn makes it possible for the prisoner to be reintegrated into society after serving their prison term.
Finally, it helps contain the spread of diseases in prison. The right to health applies to everyone including prison inmates. Put differently, people who are in prison have the same right to health care as citizens in the outside community.
Despite what the social media is saying Mamombe is getting a five star treatment in prison. This is why she is able to go to a private hospital while other prisoners are forced to attend the government hospitals.
Prisoners now have access to basic health information and can advocate for their own care and treatment. The prisons is always Making sure prisoners are aware of their health needs, know their health status, and are equipped to practice self-care.
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