The government has been urged to avail funding for the construction of the new Gwanda Prison as the current facility is now too small and dilapidated, a situation that is negatively affecting operations.

Situated in the central business district of Gwanda town, the prison which was established 108 years ago, has not had any meaningful renovations or expansion and currently holds 180 inmates, an excess of 40 from its official holding capacity of 140.

Plans to establish a new facility under the public sector investment programme eight kilometres away from the town have been in the pipeline for the past five years.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Officer Commanding Matabeleland South Province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Shepard Mpofu said the proposed state-of-the art prison will address the challenges currently being faced.

“The new prison will accommodate up to 500 inmates. We will be able to provide staff accommodation and offices as well as facilities to carry out our rehabilitation programmes,” he said.

Gwanda prison has a rehabilitation programme meant to equip inmates with knowledge and skills to be self-sustaining after incarceration.

“We get support from Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic, which offers short courses for inmates in areas such as carpentry, welding and brick moulding, this helps them a lot when they leave prison,” ZPCS Correctional Officer, Sizalubuhle Dube said.

Meanwhile, the institution owns a 585 hectare farm outside Gwanda town where it breeds cattle and goats.

The organisation, which also has a thriving garden, says plans are underway to establish an irrigation scheme which will run on a commercial base.