The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) yesterday donated knitting and sewing machines worth $136 000 to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) at Harare Central Prison. The donation comprises of 10 automatic knitting machines, four over-locking machines, four straight lock machines, 7 000 cobs of knitting yarn, 18 chairs and a semi-industrial iron.ICRC also offered a two-month training programme to inmates and prison officers in knitting and sewing techniques and the project will yield 10 000 jerseys annually.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Head of Regional Delegation of the ICRC Mr Thomas Merkelbach said that they started working with the ZPCS in 2009 with the aim of improving the conditions of treatment and detentions at prisons around the country.
“Our work with the ZPCS since 2009 is one such situation where an offer of services by the ICRC to the Ministry of Justice was accepted and led to a fruitful support for the ZPCS and together we aim to improve conditions of treatment and detention at 46 prisons around the country,” he said.
He added that the ICRC had reached a milestone on the path towards helping the ZPCS to be better equipped to meet its responsibilities to provide adequate conditions of detention and to contribute to the rehabilitation of inmates.
“Through this project, we have identified a way we can meet objectives such as training the inmates in knitting techniques that can help them upon release to find a job and to reintegrate back into the community and reduce the costs of production of jerseys to enable the resources available to be redirected elsewhere in favour of inmates,” said Mr Merkelbach.
ICRC and ZPCS are also currently working together in the rehabilitation of the water supply at Chikurubi Prison Complex.
ZPCS Commissioner-General Retired Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi applauded ICRC for the donation.
“As the ZPCS, we remain indebted for such a priceless donation which no doubt goes a long way in reinforcing our inmate rehabilitation efforts among other critical areas.
“Such support has made a difference in transforming not only lives of the incarcerated through exposure, knowledge and skills training aided by the use of the donated various machinery, but also impacting positively on the general well-being of inmates within our prison institutions,” he said.
The Commissioner-General also commended the efforts of the ICRC as an international humanitarian movement which is passionately driven by the will to protect human life and health.
“It is befitting that such a donation came at an opportune time when the machines were needed most.
“You may want to appreciate that some, if not most of our machines are old and no longer in sync with the technological innovations,” said Comm-Gen Zimondi.
A total of 8 676 jerseys have been knitted and are expected to be distributed to different provinces.