Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Warders frustrated by working conditions and low salaries

Some prison wardens have accused their leaders of lack of interest in their social welfare as they have failed to push for improvement in their working conditions, which they say leave a lot to be desired.

This follows the announcement two months ago that government would increase the salaries of police officers.

The Public Relations Officer of the Botswana Prisons Service, Senior Superintendent Anthony Mokento, refused to comment on accusations made by the Department’s staff that they do not care about their social welfare as they have failed to approach the government and negotiate better working conditions on their behalf as the Botswana Police Service authorities have done.

All he could say was, “I have no comment on the issue.”

According to one of the wardens stationed at the Prisons Headquarters in Gaborone, the general feeling in the department had always been that their leadership has their welfare at heart and that they were doing something to have their welfare improved. However, this development, they say, has proved that what they thought was a pure illusion.

”The silence on this issue by our leaders has proved us all wrong and shown us clearly that the leadership does not care about our welfare,” said the officer.

Asked what he felt should have been done by their leadership, the officer, who asked for anonymity, said that he had expected their leadership to have publicly stated that they were not happy because their department had been left out of the exercise.

”This would have been a very encouraging move from their side. But their silence is, to say the least, shocking. It is like they feel that we are all right and do not deserve the increments whilst the truth is that we do.”

Another warden also based at the headquarters said that he was surprised that they were treated differently from the police officers whilst they work hand in hand in combating crime in the country and dealing with dangerous criminals as much as the police are doing.

“The police arrest the dangerous criminals, then they hand them over to us and we deal with them on a daily basis, keeping them away from the public, and, as such, we feel that we deserved the increment that was given to the police officers,” he said.

Saying their working conditions were the same as those of the police officers, the warden wondered why they were left out when the increments were being considered.
Yet another warden based at Central Prison said that it was surprising that they were left out when they are also dealing with dangerous criminals whom they keep behind bars and guard around the clock on a daily basis, exposing themselves to dangers. Besides that, he said at times they carry out very traumatizing tasks, like helping in the execution of condemned prisoners.

This, he said, showed the dangerous and traumatizing circumstances that they operate under and that, for them to be left out in the exercise of salary increment, was a big let down on the part of their leadership.

“I have never heard that they had engaged government on this issue as has always been the case with the police whose leaders have always complained publicly about this issue and this just shows they do not care about our welfare,” complained the officer.

All the wardens who spoke to The Sunday Standard asked for anonymity for fear of being reprimanded.

Police officers will start getting their increased salaries at the end of this month.


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