Business captain Hitesh Anadkat has handed over a K350 million cell block to Chichiri Prison in Blantyre.
Anadkat, who is Chairperson of First Capital Bank, constructed the 384-bed block after noting, through the media, the poor conditions prisoners live in.
“That picture I saw in which prisoners were packed like sardines moved me. 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 child needed them to go to school and she was thrown into jail. Such people deserve some level of humanity,” he said.
On this note, Anadkat challenged the Judiciary to revisit some of the sentences magistrates give people in the villages saying they throw people into jail for long terms for minor offences.
“Community service can do better than most of jail terms our magistrates give. Someone’s children are starving and he steals food just to save their lives, deserves lenience,” he said.
He, however, bemoaned bureaucratic challenges he faced in convincing the government to allow him to construct the structure at the prison.
Minister of Homeland Security, Nicholas Dausi, who was the guest of honour, conceded that the government’s business is delayed by bureaucracy in most ministries and departments.
Dausi promised to work on the concern saying even getting a business licence from the Ministry of Trade takes years, which is not supposed to be the case.
Dausi hailed Anadkat for constructing the structure, saying the government appreciates the role some citizens play in the improvement of the welfare of prisoners.
“We are moving away from punishment to correctional services in our prisons and this structure fits well in that picture with good beds and toilets,” he said.