10 October 2018
A 25-year-old inmate, who is a psychiatric patient’s condition has improved immensely but her freedom hangs under the mercy of the Health Tribunal Board that has been disbanded, H-Metro has learnt.
Lousinonh Siziba, one of the mental patients at Mlondolozi Special Institute and Female Prison housed at Khami Prison Complex, pleaded with responsible authorities to look into issues concerning more than 60 mentally challenged inmates who are eligible for release.
“I came here as a mental patient but for the past four years I feel exposed to abuse by other inmates,” said Lousinonh.
“Due to shortage of drugs some patients become violent and become a threat to us when I am supposed to be released by now.
“My future hangs upon the mercy of relevant authorities who are supposed to process my documents for release but the disturbing issue is that the health mental board expected to sign us out has been disbanded.
“At one time, I heard that the board wanted payment in order to meet and assess our conditions for release and this went on for years before hearing that the board is no longer functional.
“Can responsible authorities out there hear our voice? Can they consider our future as inmates and value our life more than money?” lamented Lousinonh in tears.
She thanked prison officers for according her a chance to study and further her education and chance to showcase her talent after they were taken to a Star Brite show held in Bulawayo recently.
“I suffered from post natal depression and when I gave birth, I was diagnosed with psychosis and that caused me to decapitate my baby,” said Lousinonh.
“I want to thank prison officers who gave us chance to socialize with people outside the prison and feature on Star Brite show.
“Counseling I received here helped me much that I am looking forward to pursue a degree in accounts upon my release,” said Lousinonh.
In an interview Mlondolozi Special Institute and Female Prison officer in charge, Chief Correctional Officer Jabulile Mathema confirmed shortage of drugs appealing to the authorities to look into the issue affecting mentally challenged inmates.
“We have a challenge of lack of psychiatric drugs, uniforms as well as lack of partnership to support our projects that helps us in meeting our needs,” said CCP Mathema.
“We are faced with shortage of nurses and we have improvised by making sure our officers are trained to help mentally challenged inmates.
“We have inmates, especially those mentally challenged patients who hardly receive visitors and this affects them mentally and some feel dumped and we appeal to relatives and stakeholders to help us on that.
“We have a holding capacity of 520 inmates but as for today we have unlocked 336 both female and male inmates.
“We have 245 male inmates who are mentally challenged and 36 female and 64 are normal,” said CCP Mathema.
Mlondolozi is a grade three prison established in 1977 and was established as a mental institution in 1978.