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Life in prison is challenging and many who have been inside speak of life changing impact  after a profound encounter with God. This is the story of Edward Kalanda.

Question:  Just start by telling us about Edward. Who is he and what has he done?

Answer: My name is Edward and I was in prison because of a case of murder.  I found myself at a house where a dead person was found and you know once you are found in such a situation, they will ask you to go and explain what happened.  So that is how I found myself in prison.  I was given a death penalty and ended up at Mukobeko, but after that I decided to appeal. I went to the supreme court. I stayed in prison for 12 years  and after the appeal failed I stayed for some more years until I was pardoned in 2020.  That is when I came back into society.


Question: when did the case happen?

Answer: That case happened in 2008 and in prison I stayed 12 years.

Question: So did the case happen at your house or what happened?

Answer: It happened at my house. This person was knifed somewhere else were they were drinking but came and died at my house.  Knowing this is my house, everyone thought I killed him. We reported to police. And you know police need to hear proper evidence of how that person died even if it was me who was reporting. How did that person die at  my house. So police said I should explain and even his relatives thought I was involved. They didn’t believe that I was innocent. That  is how I was sent to jail.

Question: During this time of trial, did you have legal representation?

Answer: I had officers from Legal Aid. They tried to ask for leniency but I think because this person seemed to have died in a brutal murder. The knives that went into his body and this made it difficult for the authorities to let me go free. Even when given such information of a brutal murder, their judgement is based on what the police tell them. Police insisted that I was guilty even if I denied the charge. I tried every way possible to show my innocence but in vain. My defence  failed and I went in.

Question: We hear about life in Mukobeko Prison, because that is like the last resort. How was life there? Some times it looks like someone will never come out. How is the experience  there?

Answer:  Mukobeko is not a prison to play with. Some people who are sent there die. If you are not strong, you can not survive. You need a strong will to survive.  You can die and not go back home. So when you go to Mukobeko jus pray.  God if I sinned, it is you who will see how my life  will be. Because Mukobeko  has upstairs with small rooms and numbers.  There are 4 in each room but when it is full, you can even be seven.  Rooms and groups of people.  It is not a nice place. That place is bad. Please do not commit a crime. Don’t fight because you will hit a sick person and that person dies. You end up being taken to Mukobeko. That place is bad. People die and others do not come back. You will just be crying. You just think that one day there will come a President who will kill sign and kill me. So you just pray.  I am thankful that the presidents who have served so far have not been signing the death penalty to kill prisoners on death row.  In the old days, prisoners used to die. There are `elevators’ there and if they say you will die, for sure you will die. But things have changed now.  Prisoners used to be told to eat because they were going to die and even their family members would be called to come and say farewell.  You say good bye and they take you to the `elevator’ and that is, you die and they go and bury you. We thank God for President Hakainde Hichilema for removing the death penalty so that people are not killed in prison.  Mukobeko is hell and it is not a nice place to be. Once you enter inside, and it looks nice but once you are locked up that’s when you realise how life is. There are also dormitories for life savers… it is bad. People just hear about jail, this is not a good thing.

Question: Lets talk about skills which you learnt inside prison which are now helping you.

Answer: I learnt mechanics and agriculture and I completed both courses through TEVETA. It is just that jobs are  hard to find. So we are just working on our  own. You find land and start working on your own. We are cultivating crops and in my free time I do vehicle repairs. There is no formal employment.

Question: So how can you describe life after prison now that you are free and working for yourself.

Answer:  When you go to prison, all your thoughts and places are scattered. So  I was just thinking of going to farm  where we used to stay. But I found that my sister had sold all the farms and property so where to start was a problem. I was really sold. So we made a cooperative with Mr Chirwa so that we can find assistance. We are rearing chickens and at least we getting something to help us. Even our friends coming out of prison with nowhere to go, we can help them. That’s the life we have now.   This cooperative is making a difference for may ex prisoners.

Question: How do you identify former prisoners that can join ZAMEP, the association that deals with former prisoners?

Answer:  All prisons know that there is this association for former prisoners so they know where to go. We receive all former prisoners who need help and do assist.

Question:  How do you think women cope in prison? Which experience is easier?

Answer: women are like children and when they enter prison, it is the same.  Some women have skills just like women and when we receive them we give them work according to their skills.

Question: How  do you deal with those who want to give  up? What words of encouragement can you give those families that distance themselves from their relatives who are ex prisoners.

Answer: I always tell people that prison is not a good prison to go to. It is better to respect the law. You can be laughing at your friend an ex prisoner but you can also  find yourself there.  Do good to avoid prison and to pray to God.  Embrace ex prisoners and God will reward you.  Every person should know why you are in prison. Even sexual harassment such as just hitting a woman’s backside and you find yourself in prison. You can be jailed for defilement and incest and beating women. These cases are many in prison.  So just respect yourself as an individual.

This program is supported by WAN IFRA WOMEN IN NEWS, however, views expressed here do not represent WAN-IFRA WOMEN IN NEWS.


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