By Glenda Mweni, Intern, UNIC Lusaka
On Thursday 18 July 2019 the United Nations in Zambia along with partners commemorated the International Nelson Mandela Day at the Mukobeko Maximum Correctional Facility in
Kabwe. As part of the celebration, Henry Lutangu an inmate was given an opportunity to give a vote of thanks on behalf of his counterparts.
Lutangu expressed happiness at the Nelson Mandela day for promoting humane conditions in prisons as this is in line with rule 24(2) of the Nelson Mandela Rules which states that “prisons Health-care services should be organized in close relationship to the general public health administration and in a way that ensures continuity of treatment and care, including for HIV, tuberculosis and other infections, as well as for drug dependence.” He stated that the Mandela rules which call for the humane treatment of inmates have influenced the management of prison facilities and the treatment of prisoners in many ways.
He noted that inmates at Mukobeko had equal access not only to heath services but to education too. “I can testify that I am among those that have benefited from education facilities in the prison. I came as a Grade 12 certificate holder but I now have a degree in Education and I have already been enlisted for a Master’s degree at Kwame Nkrumah University.”
Mr Lutangu said inmates now have access to education and skills training, improved access to health and this can be seen in the introduction of fabricated health facilities in correctional
facilities. The correctional facilities have experienced improved sanitary conditions and access to clean drinking water. Every day is a Mandela Day for people in prison due to the gradual transformation from offering punitive measures to correctional ones and this is in line with the new mandate which is to rehabilitate and correct inmates into responsible law-abiding citizens.
Lutangu said that following prison reform, inmates are now treated with respect as the focus on not on punishing them but helping them reform.
“We remain prayerful that all the citizens continue to be duty bound to ensure that they promote humane conditions of imprisonment, raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society and value the work of prison staff, an important social service,” Lutangu said.