Inmates whose properties were destroyed in yesterday’s fire that gutted Gasabo Prison, commonly known as Kimironko Prison, have been given assorted relief items.
The incident occurred at around 8:30am, leaving seven injured while properties from three cells were totally destroyed, according to officials.
Officials from the Ministry for Disasters and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) said they had provided inmates with immediate relief items.
Philippe Habinshuti, the director of disaster response and recovery at MIDMAR, told Saturday Times that they distributed utensils and beddings to the affected inmates as works to erect temporary tents were ongoing.
“So far we have given them utensils such as dishes, spoons and we are going to give them blankets, mattresses as we erect tents to ensure that they have what to use and where to sleep,” Habinshuti said .
He said some 3,180 inmates were affected and need immediate support.
“We have not yet established the cost of damages but we are doing our best and hope we will have provided necessary support to all inmates by midday tomorrow [today],” he said.
Gasabo Prison accommodates more than 5,750 inmates, mostly Genocide convicts, according to prisons officials.
Speaking to Saturday Times, Hillary Sengabo, the chief inspector of prisons (CIP), welcomed the support from MIDMAR as timely.
“We are hoping that all inmates will have shelter and utensils as efforts to support them are ongoing,” Sengabo said, adding that investigations were ongoing to establish the cause of the morning fire.
Earlier yesterday, the Commissioner-General of Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS), George Rwigamba, described the fire as unfortunate incident.
Inmates were evacuated to separate facilities. He said the injuries were minor and treated from within the prison.
Police, soldiers and wardens surrounded the prison to prevent escape of inmates.
Rwigamba said fire outbreaks in prisons have become an issue of concern, adding that they were doing their best to avert the trend.
Yesterday’s fire incident becomes the fourth over the past three years.
In 2014, fire gutted both Muhanga and Rubavu prisons, leaving six inmates dead and over 60 injured in Rubavu.
Inmates from Muhanga were later transferred to Mpanga Prison in Nyanza District, and Butare Prison in Huye District.
And, in December last year, fire gutted Nyarugenge Prison in Kigali, leaving properties destroyed.
Inmates were in the same month relocated to the newly-constructed Mageragere Prison but female inmates are still in the old facility pending relocation, according to officials.