The Public Relations Officer of the Department of Prisons and Rehabilitation, Superintendent Wamorena Ramolefhe, has denied reports that prison wardens at some jails in Botswana do not allow relatives of remand prisoners to bring them food.
Ramolefhe says that there is no law which says that remand prisoners can not be brought food by either their relatives or friends.
”I do not know of any law in the country which forbids remand prisoners from eating food brought to them by their friends or relatives but, if these reports are true, it will be wrong for prison wardens to be doing that,” he said.
Despite his denial, reports by people whose relatives have been remanded say that they are not allowed to bring their relatives any form of food.
One Lerato, who refused to give her surname in order to protect her brother who is on remand in Gaborone Maximum Prison, says that she had been told by prison wardens that she can not bring her brother food whilst he is on remand.
She said she asked the wardens why that was the case and said the only answer she was given was: “That is the law.”
She also claimed that the same officer also refused to allow her to see his senior about the issue, saying that his senior was busy and did not have time to attend to such “petty issues”.
Lerato said that her concern was that her brother was diabetic and needed specially prepared food, which he is currently not getting in prison, adding that it was the reason why they wanted to bring him food.
”My brother is diabetic that is why we bring him particular food that is recommended for his condition,” she said.
Lerato says that she sees this action as an infringement on his brother’s right as he is currently just a suspect in a crime he is alleged to have committed and not a prisoner who loses some of his constitutional rights.
”I think they are infringing on my brother’s constitutional rights and it is wrong,” she complained.
In the past, the former Ombudsman, Lithebe Maine, made a recommendation that remand prisoners, as well as those serving less than six months, should be helped to vote in accordance with the country’s laws.
This recommendation has not been acted upon more than ten years after it was made and there are no reasons advanced for that.