Botswana Prison Service (BPS) Guest Commissioner Dinah Marathe was impressed yesterday by the many revenue-generating projects being undertaken in correctional and rehabilitation facilities across the country and vowed to replicate them in her country.
She was speaking shortly after visiting Khami Prisons in Bulawayo and Anju Prison Farm in Umguza District, Matabeleland North with her Zimbabwean counterpart Commissioner General Moses Chihobvu.
Anju Prison Farm is at the heart of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Corrections Service (ZPCS) campaign to equip inmates with life skills they can use on their release from prison.
The farm is one of 23 ZPCS farms producing food for inmates in different prisons across the country.
The 203 hectare farm with 130 hectares of arable land, is used for the production of a wide range of horticultural products, cereals and edible oilseeds.
Produce from the farm is used to feed inmates in prisons in the Matabeleland area, while surplus is sold to generate revenue to fund some of the daily operations of the prisons.
Khami Prison has adopted an enviable integrated farming model that provides supplementary food to approximately 4,000 inmates in the five prisons in the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province.
The 2,577 hectare farm has 61 hectares of arable land, which is used for the production of a wide range of horticultural products, cotton and winter wheat under the Command Agriculture Scheme.
A total of 2,102 hectares have been set aside for animal production, which includes raising pigs, rabbits, dairy and cattle.
Comm Marathi, with his seven-member delegation, participates in an exercise to take notes of the ZPCS as they seek to implement best practices from correctional and rehabilitation facilities nationwide.
They have so far visited various prisons around the country and will visit a juvenile correctional facility at Whawha Prison in the Midlands today.
In an interview, Comm Marathe praised ZPCS for coming up with income-generating projects that help in the rehabilitation of inmates.
“For us, these visits to prisons in Zimbabwe are part of our benchmarking exercise and I have to say that we are really impressed with the projects undertaken in prison farms in Zimbabwe. When we visited Khami prisons and Anju farm, we were taken through mixed farming projects, which include dairy farming, piggery and goat farming and these are projects that we especially of interest as Botswana,” she said.
“In Botswana, we are also setting up a dairy project in our prisons and we already have cattle, pigs and goats. We have set aside enough land to establish the dairy project and so we will ask our counterparts in Zimbabwe to help us in this regard as they already have one which they are successfully running in Khami prisons.
Comm Marathe said that as BPS they focus on projects related to the rehabilitation of prisoners.
“We believe that looking holistically at their projects (ZPCS), they are actually linked to our prisoner rehabilitation mandate. In fact, these are the projects that, when inmates are serving their sentences, could support themselves and their families,” she said.
“Through these projects, they also impart skills and knowledge to inmates for their future life outside prison. This is something we are looking at and we also appreciate the scale of the projects and their impact being felt throughout the organization so that the Commissioner General is not dependent on the fiscus for the day to day running of the organization.
Comm Marathi said that based on the open prison concept in Zimbabwe, Botswana will soon introduce such facilities.
“The open prison concept is something we will also pilot in Botswana because it connects prisoners to people so that by the time they serve their sentence, the relationship between prisoners and the community will have already been established,” said- she declared. .
Comm Maratha said that Zimbabwe and Botswana are set to sign a memorandum of understanding which will see the exchange of prisoners where a national serving a sentence in another country will serve part of their sentence in their country.
The agreement, if implemented, will allow more than 400 Zimbabweans who are serving their sentences in different prisons in Botswana to serve their sentences in Zimbabwe, while around 10 Botswana nationals serving in Zimbabwe will also complete their sentences in Botswana. .
Comm-Gen Chihobvu said talks are underway for prisoners from either country to complete their sentences in their home countries, if they wish.
“The MoU includes the transfer of detainees from either country, we are looking at our detainees who are Zimbabweans, if they want to complete their sentence here in Zimbabwe they can be transferred if they wish However, if they don’t want to, they will serve in Botswana,” he said.
The two countries enjoy good mutual relations and in February they signed five additional Memoranda of Understanding as they cemented brotherly relations on a wide range of socio-economic issues during the third session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Binational Commission. (BNC) in Victoria Falls. .
President Mnangagwa and his Botswanan counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi witnessed the signing of agreements on child protection, tourism cooperation, agriculture and food security cooperation, water and youth development cooperation.