COMMUNITIES in the western peri-urban parts of Bulawayo accuse guards and inmates at Khami Prison of sexually abusing vulnerable girls and women.
Prison officers and imprisoned criminals are alleged to be taking advantage of their status to abuse children and women.
In an interview last week at an Anti-Gender Based Violence Gala that was held at St Peter’s, Pumula legislator Godfrey Malaba said he was disappointed by increased cases of sexual abuse, early child marriages and domestic violence in his constituency.
He said Robert Sinyoka, Mazwi, St Peter’s, Pumula Old and Methodist area were the most affected, with poverty being the main driver.
“It is sad to note that professionals, who are law enforcers such as the prison wardens at Khami Prison, are among the perpetrators of these crimes. I have received dozens of such reports and I was shocked to note that even those who are meant to protect the community are among the criminals.
“I am glad men within these communities have formed groups to fight crime. The men’s forum that was formed last year is working tirelessly to uproot all bad apples in society. I encourage them to keep working harder, protecting their children and neighbours,” said Malaba.
Prisoners are said to offer firewood as payment for sex with children and youths in the surrounding areas.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service Provincial Public Relations Officer for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Principal Correctional Officer Garainashe Moyo dismissed the allegations.
“It is very unfortunate that such reports are emanating from the media and not from the victims. It will therefore be difficult for us to authenticate an issue that has no known complainant.
“Sexual abuse whether of children or women is a criminal offence which should be reported to the police and the perpetrators should be prosecuted and appear in the courts of law.
“Inmates are always under guard such that officers are aware of whatever they will be doing. There have never been any reports of such a nature either from officers, police or members of the public from the mentioned communities,” he said.
Moyo urged any abused persons or parents with abused children not to hesitate reporting such cases so that perpetrators are arrested.
“Anyone who has been abused has the right to report to the nearest police or prison authorities and the law will definitely take its course. A payment for sexual activities is between two parties after an agreement but this constitutes prostitution. If our officers are doing that, surely such behaviour will never be condoned.”
He said: “While ZPCS is willing to investigate these allegations we urge the said victims to approach our offices or nearest police to report such cases of abuse so that corrective measures can be taken against the culprits.”