First Capital Bank Group chairperson Hitesh Anadkat on Tuesday handed over a 384-bed prison block to Chichiri Prison in Blantyre worth K350 million with a call to encourage community sentence programmes and drastically reduce the use of custody on minor offences.
Anadkat constructed the modern prison block after learning through the media the poor, degrading and inhuman conditions in the country’s jails which is also complicated by overcrowding.
“I was shocked when I saw pictures of prisoners sleeping like sardines so close to one another,” said Anadkat.
The well known philanthropist said he started to engage prison authorities and the Ministry of Homeland Security but faced apathy from authorities.
“One minister sent senior prison officials who said I should just give them the money and they would get it done. I would not do it that way,” said Anadkat.
He said the Judiciary should also review their sentencing guidance to ensure that other jail terms are non-custodial which gives offenders a second chance and turns them into productive members of society.
“There are some dangerous criminals in there and they need to be there for a long time yes, but most of the prisoners committed small offences. I heard of a grandmother who stole shoes because her daughter needed them to go to school and she was thrown into jail. Such people deserve some level of humanity,” he said.
Anadkat observed that most inmates are petty criminals and a good number are on remand for year on end.
He pointed out that it is only by investing in the community that the country will succeed in reducing crime.
Minister of Homeland Security Nicholous Dausi hailed Aandkat for the gesture.
Dausi in an interview with Nyasa Times said a “great transformation” of prisons would be one of the goals of government.
Meanwhile, commentators have cautioned that the new block should not be for the elite who find themselves on the wrong side of the law but give high priority to old and fail inmates and others that are studing in jail.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :