CYANGUGU - Authorities yesterday told The New Times, that the situation at Cyangugu prison, was back to normal after days of protests over bad food.
“The situation is back to normal, prisoners have good food and they are being visited,” said the Minister of Internal Security Fazil Musa Harerimana.
In explaining the root of the protests an inmate from the prison accused wardens of conniving with some inmates to steal food meant for prisoners and sometimes substitute it with poor quality food.
“Some managers in the prison conspired with Stratton Sinzabakwira, to divert food meant for us and replace it with decaying beans,” said Fredric Niyonzima, an inmate.
Sinzabakwira, who is the head of prisoners, is currently serving a life sentence over his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In an interview with The New Times, Niyonzima also claimed that prisoners have been denied their visitation rights.
Cyangugu prison is currently home to over 5000 prisoners.
Meanwhile, an official from the prison who preferred to remain anonymous apportioned blame on a group of notorious inmates.
He said that the prison has enough stocks of quality food.
In a separate interview, Harerimana, told The New Times, he was aware of the issue.
He said that last month, a consignment of bad beans was supplied to the prison and it was later established that no amount of cooking could get them ready for consumption.
“In the meantime, inmates protested because they were worried they might not be fed; we borrowed beans from the neighboring prisons and fed them,” said Harerimana.
He added that, on the second supply, the management of the prison rejected the beans from the supplier.
“After food was availed to prisoners, the management of the prison decided to punish the prisoners who protested by putting them in isolation, not to be visited by their relatives.”
He pointed out that the punishment was not because they exercised their rights but because they did it in a wrong manner.
“The punishment ended on Thursday and inmates were expected to get visits on Friday but the prison management denied them claiming it had to first seek authorization from the central management of prisons in the country,” added the Minister.
He said that this made inmates go on strike again using mega phones and drums to cause havoc.
Harerimana added that the Regional Police Commander met and held talks with the prisoners and promised them that they will be visited.