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Use of electric pots in prisons faulted

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Current electricity power outages have negatively affected some prisons in the country, notably Chichiri which uses electric pots to cook food for inmates.

The prison does not have an alternative for cooking in cases of blackouts.

Recently, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) said power outages will continue due to low water levels in Shire River.

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As narrated by Bright Banda, a Chichiri ex-prisoner who was released in July this year, they could go for up to two days without any food.

“As of July this year, we were over 1,900 inmates, but only about 11 bags of flour were been given out to serve for that day’s meal, which is not enough. Again, we used electricity to cook and we suffered because of blackouts. Basing on my experience at the prison, we could stay two to three days without electricity. This had a huge impact as it meant no food for that particular day,” Banda said.

He, however, added that this has had huge repercussions for inmates living with HIV, tuberculosis and blood pressure.

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Acting Public Relations Officer for the prison, Damiano Fanuel, confirmed the use of electric pots as the only means in food preparation.

He, however, could not divulge more information as he said he is new in the post.

Commenting on the matter, Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (Chreaa), Executive Director, Victor Mhango, said this is worrisome considering that food shortage is already a challenge in Malawi’s prisons.

He said it is sad that the prisoners can go days without food just because there is no other means of cooking food due to electricity outage.

“It is paramount that the prison management or the prison service looks into the matter with curiosity. You know the prison is like a stand-alone community which needs proper support. Previously, they used firewood for cooking but due to scarcity of the fuel, the electric pots were introduced. Still there are gaps and we have to accept them.” Mhango said.

He, however, suggested that installation of solar electricity in places like the prisons would be a viable option.

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