By GRACE CHAILE-LESOETSA
THE Judiciary yesterday took to task the Zambia Correctional Services (ZCS) Commissioner General, Chileshe Chisela to explain the circumstances under which 12 inmates appearing on the cause list were missing from Lusaka Central Correctional Facility (Chimbokaila).
The panel of Supreme Court judges which included Chief Justice Irene Mambilima said the court was baffled that warders could lose prisoners within the prison system.
“This to us is a very grave issue because when persons are convicted by the courts, there is a warrant which goes to the prisons showing how long that prisoner will be in custody and when they serve their sentence according to the warrant, they are released. It is baffling that you can lose prisoners within the prisons service and tell us that you cannot locate them,” said Ms Justice Mambilima.
But Dr Chisela informed the Court that no inmate was missing and the 12 alleged missing prisoners were either discharged after serving their sentences and one died in custody.
However, Ms Justice Mambilima who sat with deputy Chief justice , Michael Musonda, judges Albert Wood, Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga noted with dismay that in January this year, cases collapsed because the prison authorities did not bring the inmates to court.
The court said it was not the first time such a situation was happening and questioned how the ZSC system worked that they have no documentation to show that a prisoner was discharged or released on amnesty.
She said that for many of the prisoners who were supposed to appear for a criminal session in January, the information given to the court was that the prison authorities did not know the whereabouts of the prisoners.
The Chief Justice said that the Court then gave an order for the prison authority to explain the whereabouts of the inmates.
The Court urged Dr Chisela to investigate what was happening in facilities countrywide as the problem was not only at Chimbokaila but countrywide.
Dr Chisela apologised to the court for the inconvenience caused and said he will look into the issue to ensure proper communication and procedure is followed.
He appealed to the Judiciary to also send correspondence to his office.