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Zimbabwe Detainees Going Hungry

Zimbabwe Detainees Going Hungry
Zimbabwe Detainees Going Hungry

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Police in Zimbabwe are warning they do not have enough money to feed people in holding cells around the country.  The whole justice system in Zimbabwe is threatened by lack of adequate resources.

Although fewer people are being arrested now than in previous years, the police say they do not have enough money to feed those held in custody at police stations.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said if arrested people are not given food by relatives or from sympathetic policemen paying for food out of their own pockets, detainees are going hungry.  He said policemen, like many other civil servants, are only earning about $150 a month.

Bvudzijena said the worst affected among those people arrested and held in rural police districts.  He said some charitable organizations helped feed suspects in urban areas like Harare, but it is never enough.

The assistant commissioner said the police force received less than 10 percent of the funds it requested in the last budget.  He said many police vehicles no longer work and the police infrastructure is disintegrating fast.

Insiders in the Department of Justice say it is also affected with a shortage of prosecutors, magistrates, and other staff servicing the courts.  This is leading to longer stays in jail for prisoners awaiting trial.

Former Commercial Farmers Union president Trevor Gifford and a colleague were supposed to appear in court Friday in the eastern city Mutare.  But there was no staff to process them and they were held in custody over the weekend.

They were arrested on contempt of court charges because, their lawyers say, they tried to deliver a High Court order to a presiding magistrate.

Other Zimbabwe government ministries are also short of cash.  Education minister David Coltart said Sunday his allocation is $1 per child at school per month.  He said this is a shocking statistic affecting three million school children.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti is raising about $90 million a month to run Zimbabwe and there are few indications revenue is going to increase.

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