SEVEN YEARS IN REMAND PRISON
VONGAI KAGORO, 33, rests her head in her cupped hands as she makes deep adventures down memory lane. Her thoughts seem to have migrated with her to an awful, horrifying and catastrophic time.
Kagoro, who on 8 April will be sealing a seven-year sojourn while in remand prison, as explained by the green garb she dons. She eventually smiles as her eyes turn to the direction of two women lawyers in private sector that are set to put smiles on the incarcerated mothers at Chikurubi Female Prison in commemoration of the just ended International Women’s Day.
Besides remembering the incarcerated women, the two lawyers Mildred Mubaiwa-Mashozhera and Vimbai Mupazviripo donate sanitary wear and some maputi.
As the duo address female inmates, Kagoro finds solace from the bottom of the water mug to dissipate problems that are weighing heavily on her mind.
“We just heard there was International Women’s Day, and we have not seen anyone commemorate with us. I am in remand prison because of murder and I am nearly getting to seven years now in prison,” said Vongai.
While she says she is still fighting hard to have her case heard through the assistance of legal minds, Kagoro said her case has been complicated because of health.
The mother of two, who suffers from epilepsy, claims she is being given tablets of psychiatric patients (name supplied) but her narration of the events leading to her arrest and dates, do not question her mental position.
“I have kids that I have not seen in a long time. The elder one I have not seen her since I was sent here but the other one who is at a local children’s home, I see her on school holidays.
“It is difficult to be a woman, and even more difficult to be a mother. When we are here, we are neglected by the community and even by friends and relatives.
“Ini ndinonetseka kuti vana vangu panze apo vari kurarama sei,” says Kagoro as she battles to restrict tears that irresistibly congest her eyes.
Her concern is also shared by her mate Anna Shoko, 38, who now has two years in remand custody over an aggravated indecent assault case.
Shoko says she has five children, among them one who lives with disability.
“If my husband was alive, perhaps I would have hope that my children have someone fending for them, but it is a totally different matter because he died in 2011.
“Ndiri mujeri repfungwa veduweee kungoti vana vangu ndichavaonawo rinhi. I do not even know what they are doing, how they are surviving,” said Shoko.
Shoko’s uncle who last visited her early this year told her that her physically challenged child was now living in the streets in Chivhu, she says.
Regarding the plight facing female inmates, Mashozhera-Mubaiwa says there is need for government to look at justice from a rehabilitative point rather than punitive one.
“There are issues that affect women inmates that are different from those affecting men. Some in here have been neglected by their husbands. But the irony is that when men get incarcerated, their wives visit them in prison until they serve through their sentences.
“These women are serving two prison terms, one here at Chikurubi and the other one in the mind regarding the state of their relations with the outside world. Women are easily forgotten and quickly made outcasts,” said Mubaiwa-Mashozhera.
Handing over the donation, Mubaiwa-Mashozhera said along with Vimbai, both from Ngwerume Attorneys at Law, they were helping women out of love.
“I urge all legal practitioners to remember that we do not make donations when we receive money from donors, but out of love. It has become the norm that days like International Women’s Day are commemorated in hotels, people feeding on expensive food yet these women behind bars are the ones we should commemorate with.
“Sanitary wear is critical for women than us just giving food, though its good too. If we are celebrating with them, we will be preparing them so that when they come from prison we would have created a platform conducive for them to know what is right from wrong. There are many women from different nationalities in our prisons, but some do not get help because their country’s embassies are not aware,” said Mubaiwa-Mashozhera.
Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, gives $20-dollar stipends to families that cannot fend for themselves, but the money does not commensurate with the cost of living, Mubaiwa-Mashozhera added.
Officer in Charge at Chikurubi Female Prison Superintendent Mary Misihairabwi thanked the duo for the donation and urged churches, schools and other organisations to remember the women behind bars.
“Thank you and we hope this is not the last time you are coming through to us with the donations. We are grateful for your gesture,” said Sup. Misihairabwi.