Zambian prisons are death chambers-HH

HH stresses a point during the interview
HH stresses a point during the interview
HH stresses a point during the interview
HH stresses a point during the interview

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has given a chilling account of his 127-day stay in prison describing his experience as terrible torture.

And Mr. Hichilema has refused to state whether he will now recognize President Edgar Lungu as duly elected Head of State now that he has been freed.

In an interview with the BBC’s Kennedy Gondwe from his New Kasama residence, Mr. Hichilema said his stay in prison was dehumanizing.

He said a lot of torture goes on in Zambian prisons describing the facilities as death chambers.

Mr. Hichilema who was released on Wednesday disclosed that a lot of deaths occur in prison and go unreported.

The UPND leader said his stay in prison was terrible and that he was made to sleep on the cold floor and use the same bucket to answer the call of nature for urine and fecal matter.

“It was terrible, the treatment was dehumanizing. A lot of torture goes on in those prisons. We were made to sleep on the cold floor. It’s a 2.5 x 2-meter cells and people sleep by standing. There is no space in there and you are locked up 16 Hours,” Mr. Hichilema narrated.

He charged that nobody should be made to go through those conditions in Zambia or anywhere else.

“There is no ventilation there and the conditions are terrible. People die in there and the health standards are very poor. You cannot treat citizens like that,” he said.

Mr. Hichilema stated that he still feels for those inmates he has left behind in prison adding that he feels he is not released yet because of the many people he has left behind in prisons.

“Some of the people still in there shouldn’t be there at all,” he said.

HH with Kennedy Gondwe
HH with Kennedy Gondwe

And Mr. Hichilema has refused to state whether he will now recognize President Lungu as a duly elected Head of State.

On the issue of the Nolle prosequi, Mr. Hichilema stated that his legal team has already provided an interpretation on the implications of the Nolle.

He said he is not worried about being re-arrested because he did not commit any crime in the first place.

Mr. Hichilema said allegations that he wanted to install himself as Head of State in Mongu during the Kuomboka ceremony are the sour part in the entire episode.

“It is practically impossible to install oneself as Head of State. That’s a sour part in this episode. Leaders should never abuse state institutions whilst they are in power.

When asked by the impending dialogue with President Lungu, Mr. Hichilema said dialogue is essential in any situation based on truth and fairness.

He said in a civilized world, problems are solved through dialogue adding that abuse of people’s rights can never solve any problems.

The UPND leader cautioned that people should not focus on the 2021 elections before resolving the many governance issues affecting the nation.

“Elections is not an event, it’s a process, there are things we need to talk about such as citizens rights. Are people free, is there press freedom, do we have an independent Electoral Commission?”

Further asked on what he will put on the table when he meets President Lungu for dialogue, Mr. Hichilema responded, “we will cross the bridge when we get there.”

HH during the interview with the BBC
HH during the interview with the BBC


  1. But why have you only seen that the Prisons are in a bad state now? You have MPs that are busy boycotting when they are supposed to be putting pressure on the State to improve prison conditions!God works in mysterious ways! At the end of the day if one day the state of prisons in Zambia well be good as a result of HH being a one time resident then that is a good thing! They say a nation is judged by the way it keeps its prisoners! The judicial and prison system is a joke! It is immoral for judges to send people to the cells for minor crimes when they know the cells are in such a state! The judges are complacent and guilty in the eyes of God for this injustice! As for Zambia corrections service where is the money you are making from farming? Why can’t you use that money to improve the…

    • Ctn… Why can’t you use that money to improve the prisons?? May God judge these magwams(judges&prison officials) harshly!!!

    • Only a stu.pi.d and dumb person would not take wise words from HH and would consider them silly.
      HH has valid points, and he is indeed taking his time before tabling points for discussion with ECL. And he is right you can not cross the river before closing the topics that brought the country on fire.
      See in USA, because of racial cases lately, they decided to remove the monuments, and historians have valid reasons for that saying, its because slavery cases were not rightly closed. So if you say just move on, you are being cowards not to solve issues, instead these will come up in years to come. Fix the system now, just moving on is not a solution.
      @2020vision, please add Kanganja boys to your list of people that God should judge

    • With all the due respect and all protocols observed, welcome back home and wish you the best of lucky, your excellence, HH.

    • @Nubian,
      Your obsession for married men is disgusting!, start by shaving your armpits you might be able to find a single man to service your rusting apple and see you through your frustration,,,,,,you are worst than mumbi phiri, because at least she gets serviced by Jonathan and her husband, ,,, Your breakup with miles Sampa left you with a bitter chilly sensation between legs,,, leave married men alone

    • Have empathy and a human spirit with each other. The brother has just emerged from the gallows of punitive and non reformatory prisons of mother Africa. Allow him to freely express himself and possibly advocate for necessary reforms instead of castigating him heartlessly. We are all potential prisoners regardless of our affinity. Life is never linear but a moving target of many tales.

    • @Nubian, wamona nomba what wise men like
      @Ndobo start advising you.
      I am sorry I can’t save you today, I respect @Ndobo.

    • Zambia has no prisons. The country has castles with dungeons comparable to Elmina Castle and The Castle of Cape Coast in Ghana. l visited those two structures with my colleagues from the U.S.A. Oh Gosh! They shed tears. I do not know why they call prisons correctional facilities in Zambia. That’s an insult.

    • @ 1.6 kubweka
      You sum it all, only when one has experienced something will they talk with authority and as it is there are some who still take what HH is saying of the prisons status with doubt in truthfulness until they themselves have opportunity to check in. The MP’s are a let down since they are the legislators as well as determinants of how taxpayers resources are allocated and expended that year in and out that they can’t look into improvements in various service sectors as if they have not had eye opening encounters themselves or through relatives and close associates! Thus calling these pathetic prisons “correctional facilities” is an insult on the dignity of the words interpretation!

    • HH is an opposition leader. He has been doing this for a long time. Part of being in opposition is to perform CHECKS AND BALANCES.

      How come all these years he has not bothered to check what goes in PRISONS. Schools, Hospitals, and the list goes. By this time he should have known the state of prisons. This has been talked about so many times. Why did he not bother to do an inspection tour of prisons all these years.

      Who is the Home Affairs spokes-person in UPND Party. Has this person from spokesperson he/she even bothered to inspect prison and give a report and challenge the government.

      What are his MP’s doing in parliament? If its not boycotts, then its crying all the time.

    • How come you did not die if they are death chambers. Don’t play to the gallery former suspect. ““Elections is not an event, it’s a process, there are things we need to talk about such as citizens rights. Are people free, is there press freedom, do we have an independent Electoral Commission?”” You said this but forgot that you campaigned against the BILL of RIGHTS. Very indeed. Now you see the benefits of DE campaigning the bill of rights. Take several showers before you start spreading mukobeko smell

    • Prisons are in such a state because of criminals like HH himself, who plundered through privatization…So who is he to paint a picture that poor conditions in prisons were caused by the PF GRZ

  2. Please behave yourself and avoid going back to prison. You never thought you could test what an average Zambian goes through whilst in jail.

  3. Did you want to go to prison to drink tea daily? If you continue to bring confusion to the nation again the Zambian people think you better live there.

    • Dont you think that those people in Prison also deserve tea? imagine your father was locked up, would you be behaving or commenting the same? You are not better off than those people pending court. Is it because of your hatred for HH that makes you so dumb that you can not think objectively and outside the box?

    • What confusion did he bring to the people Sharon? He is just saying there are basic standards that should be met even for prisoners. Is that unreasonable?

    • Yes prisoners are entitled to tea daily (breakfast, lunch and dinner) they are entitled to a descent sleeping space and a descent meal.
      They may have lost their freedoms but they still deserve to be treated with human decency
      I take issue with you pretending to be a born again christian and yet you have no soul at all.

    • Such reaction from you is expected, therefore not surprising. You were all bitc.hing about treason case, ignorant not to realize the trumped up case. Now that DPP has proved to you, you are trying to find other means to castigate the guy.
      He has told you, he is ready to go back, he is not broken as you all wished, and he has not given you the answer you were expecting and that of recognition.

    • However, there is no trace of dialogue in his peach that I can assure you. This man is so pompous and full of himself. When did people start Fringilla in prisons? I wait to hear people blaming ECL

    • The only lesson to be learned here is that some people can pretend to be humble and yet theirs so much darkness in their soul, they are full of brutal vengeance, vindictiveness, cunningly silent aggressive and deceitful.

  4. The PF rats are now scratching their buttocks as HH has not broken as they expected…..he has come out dignified as ever and still calling a spade a spade…

    We now await to see what freedoms mr lungu can give the opposition to mobilise

  5. Elo what and who is stopping you HH from donating some of your ill begotten wealth to help improve the prisons????

    I dare HH to donate even one cow to the prisoners at Mukubeko! Please do that bwana!

    • The suggestion should be, why build a new monster in the name of of new State House for 20mil USD, instead of investing that money to improve the prisons.
      As much as HH can donate, that will be a drop in the ocean, and will not solve the problem. Its the government machinery that ought to think of improving the condition. In fact your tax, instead of it being spent on hiring planes to fly the Zambian delegation on useless state visits, they can use that money to improve the condition.
      Bill Gates has so far donated 46 Billion of his 86 Bil USD, have you noticed the impact? not much until governments gets involved.

    • Iyi niyamene twenze kukamba ku Lilayi ati “It cant!” HH ku pasa Boma fanika olo ngombe imozi. Iyi ni contravening yo ipisisa !

  6. I tell my Zambian friends that we construct roads for $1million per kilometer which hugely overpriced yet we can not build proper schools and prisons even productive prison farms….last time the Lazy Lungu visited a prison he donated TV and pots that how clueless he is ….with the Bum’s sickness i doubt he will last 1 week.

  7. The country has been quite & orderly for the past 4 months. Now let’s c how this jail bird behaves o else ni back!!!!

  8. Our prisons have always been bad and we only see this when we’re affected. I’d personal experience when I was locked in for breach of peace. I was only a 17 year old form four pupil. I was traumatized for quite a long time. Even now I feel bad when I remember the episode. With the ever increasing population, I can only imagine what must be today.

  9. From his comments I think HH should have refused to leave prison until the case reached its logical conclusion. Mandela only left prison on his condition. He should have braved those conditions in solidarity with the suffering prisoners. Mind you not all of them are guilty of any crime.

  10. Well,

    I hope HH will not be used as a pone by his selfish UPND supporters, taking advantage of his intense desire for power.

  11. Nice as for H.H but as for those ‘ butch of corrupt ministers who received salaries corruptly when their boss dissolved parliament suppose! and l mean suppose as it may happen that another party say Green party forms government and brings those ministers who got salaries and puts them in prison say five years each with hard labour are they going to survive. Please CK, sit down and reflect on this issue and pay back the money you received even those other former ministers not serving in government now because the records are visible. I rest my case.

  12. It should be an offense for the government to put people in prison who have not yet been convicted. That is why we have remand prisons for those in transition. Prison should be for those that have actually been convicted by a court of law. Also, we need laws that will dictate to the prisons authorities how many prisoners can be in a cell. Why do we let the corrupt Percy Chato and his corrupt bosses make decisions that border on crimes against humanity?

  13. Partisan politics aside, it’s time to put party emotions aside and take the statement at its face value, “Zambian prisoners are being kept in inhuman conditions”. “Some people in the prisons shouldn’t be there in the first place”
    This should be of concern to everyone with a discent soul, take time to visit some one in a Zambian jail or prison.
    We wonder why we seem cursed as a nation, we have to take a deeper look at ourselves.

    • Maybe government could start with a general pardon for those that have been languishing for years in these prisons without being brought to court for a hearing! I can not help myself not being emotional for the justice system is still a case of some “animals” being more exceptional than others to receive preferential treatment even when it comes to justice being served! How many “commoners” are suffering in these prisons without speedy appearances in courts as accorded to the “special” ones with a recognizable name? Many are already serving undeserved sentences! Is Lady Justice’s blindfold really without utupunda?

  14. I’m surprised that comrade HH didn’t know that we use buckets for toilet business in our prisons ? There’s no jacuzzi there but hell.

  15. It goods that HH has experience the filth of Zambia prisons now.Edgar Lungu will have to deal with that situation after power slips away from his hands .
    Ex PF president sent to prison for corruption as former expelled member Dr Chishimba Kambwili takes over as PF party president

    • I don’t wish anyone to go to prison, some one has to bring these political incarcerations to an end.
      If anything the people who are enbling Lungu should be the ones to account for abuse of office.

  16. Take it or leave…it’s coming from the horse’s mouth. Been there done that, I wonder why Winter Kabimba didn’t lift a finger when he was minister of justice.
    In SA, jail time is like you’re in a 3 star hotel, in Zed it’s -3 standard hostel.

  17. Dont celebrate imwe ba UPND that Nolle especially that the Court hinted that he can be arrested anytime….even a day before filing of nominations mulandu unga uke so !

    • It is not a nolie you fontines, PF are lying to you rats ati nolie, nothing, everything was dropped PF had zero evidence of any treason.

  18. So HH expected luxury and comfort at Mukobeko. Prisons are not supposed to provide inmates with creature comforts. If that was their purpose, we would all rather be inside them and not outside.

  19. HH has been to see what people who have no rights go through. When we said to him after the 2016 elections lets sit and strategize we were seen to be against him even the boycott of events except those that he wishes to attend like the kuomboka were things we spoke about. He argues that he could not control his driver on the road. This worries most of us if hh says he cannot ask his driver to stop his vehicle and pull aside how will he control the army and other persons if he is in power? There is need for soul searching.But let both be calm and chat.

  20. How ignorant and spiteful some bloggers can be. HH was not convicted of any matter. He was innocent then and still is now. He is highlighting the fact that many people are incarcerated in Zambia under inhumane conditions without trial for wrong periods of time. In short, without due process, you are innocent but being punished. Even convicted prisoners have the right to the basic necessities for human existence. Those rights are there when one is born as human. No one gives them to you as some people seem to suggest.

  21. Most African prisons are not fit for human habitation.The dehumanizing conditions are not in Zambia only but that should not be seen as a backhanded approval.

  22. First of all, it is important to stress that HH was an accused person who has never been found guilty of any crime. He should have full rights enjoyed by everyone else who’s not convicted, same rights as that of Mr Lungu himself. So he should have never been put in prison with inhumane conditions because he was never a prisoner. Rather as an accused person, he should have in remand custody enjoying his full rights.

    He needs to sue the state and prisons department and demand about change as part of his compensation. The most important change should be have separate facilities of accused persons from convicted criminals.

  23. Prisons in Zambia have always been like that and they will remain like that because no one gives a damn until they have had an experience of that. They come out and narrate the inhuman situations and later on forget about that. I am yet to see who will move and change the conditions in prisons otherwise it remains a subject of discussion. General Miyanda, KK, Shamwana, Sata, Kapwepwe, Chiluba, etc…they had been there they knew the situations but what did they do afterwards….maybe one someone will make that change but only when we put our priorities right!!


    • ofcourse, Chisenga. Did you see how unusually quiet Lusaka was that day?? I was in town, industrial area, Matero, and eventually Kabwata: TOTALLY NORMAL!! If he was popular, you could have seen the noise first from the mini bus drivers (hooting and commotion), march pasts by people in neighbourhoods (remember the noise in 2011 after Sata’s win or the street parties in 2016)?? The only noise I saw was the upnd cadres on muvi tv!!

    • @Chisenga, I wish you knew what you were talking about, you have totally discredited the Zambian Judicial system. You have just confirmed how the system is compromised, so ECL can at any time pick up the phone and order DPP to bring up or withdraw the case. So if he is able to misuse the Judicial system, what prevents him from misusing the Police? I thought it was a bunch of you “PF Cadres” who were barking that ECL can not do anything to release HH and just let the case go through the court to the end, what has changed? You chameleons now changing your colors to suit your political agendas, shame on you all !!!!
      You would do better to separate the two cases, the release of HH on nolle prosequi because there was no treason case AND madam Scotland brokering opportunity for dialogue.

  25. I want to believe that the whole nation is happy that you have have been release Mr HH including EL but my advise to you is to stop cheap politicking I.e using ZWD Zambian Eagle and the Zambian Observer as your media mouthpiece…truth be told these useless media houses houses are putting a bad taste in people’s mouths. I mean instead of building you they are destroying you.Take this as serious advise HH.

    • the only mouth piece that HH can use is ZNBC, but guess who controls that?? HH has no chance to ZNBC, so the only alternative is the media that you just mentioned.

  26. HH is a liar. I was once jailed and I tell you our correctional facilities have very good standards. We used to have good and enough meals, even used to steal and sell extra beans and Kapenta to marketeers in the vicinity to have extra money in our pockets. We would make a lot of cash and even support our families and the prison warders. Tell you our prisons are good, free food, accommodation and medication. Hoping to go back soon.

    • You are the only one on this forum who says the conditions are good. And that is suspect.
      Because you are more liar than HH(as per your say), you will soon be locked up to experience it and come back and tell us the truth.

  27. Actually I was a Captain- blue band for that matter which is one rank before Special Stage (SS) which is what I hope to attain when I go back. This one you are more powerful and respected more than a prison warder (bwana). Otherwise even as a blue band you leave the prison premises in the morning to go make your money, see your family and come back evening just to sleep. You are basically free and enjoy all the freedoms that those outside enjoy.

  28. Remember the bill of rights or the refurrendum which hh and his upnd refused to support in the 2016 election,, now he is talking about human rights. It’s about time for hh to advocate for the refurrendum on thebill of rights to be included in the 2021 election now that he has tested the bitterness of the pill.

  29. Let us focus on the prisons. Its so sad as most of us have observed that 50 years later our prisons are as primitive as they were in colonial times when another race dehumanized us there. We need an action plan here. I want those who want change to stop talking about it and start doing something about this. we must think creatively about other ways of rehabilitating those who wrong society beyond throwing them in already overflowing prisons. We must pressurise the minister of home Affairs to make prison decongestion a priorty item for decision maiking at the next cabinet meeting.

  30. Does it mean wen you stay in prison and high profile people negotiate for your freedom o release then you are a hero? Our brother hh thinks he has enriched his Cv for 2021. Let him humble himself and reflect over whatever has happened to him. His not immortal??

  31. The other day I stated that underfive will undergo nightmares for a long time. I said that we could confirm with Mutinta, Mrs underfive. Lol, the boy has confirmed it himself! We await further developments.

  32. BBC’s Kennedy Gondwe carried a detailed interview with HH regarding his incarceration, his feelings including recognition of Lungu (as if release was traded for recognition).
    Gondwe in the same vain need to ask Lungu for the nation to make an informed opinion about who is telling the truth.

  33. Instead of building a new State House lets transform our Prisons from Death Traps into Correctional Facilities. Lets decongest the Prisons by releasing all Prisoners arrested on political grounds, those who have been in remand for long periods without trial,petty thieves etc. Let us not use Prisons to punish political opponents.

  34. very true HH this ECL is an evil man for having tortured you so much for nothing ..he actualy wanted you dead .he has over 5,000 people jailed for nothing awaiting justice in zambian prisons and he now want to force other 500,000 hiv positive people out there to know their status without surity of uninterrupted treatment.Zambia donor driven HIV progrma has no capacitiy to put all its HIV citizen in medications thats the fact .Why this hyper drive on mandatory testing when people are dying of hunger and malaria daily ?I smell a lottten fish here …its either PF want to benefit on procurement of testing kits and medications OR they have infected HH while in Prison .Its very possible that HH was infected by state secrets when they were forcing him to be seen by unknown medic or through…

  35. But UPNDonkeys, underfive has told you that he has just come out of a death trap, so what will happen to your “party” now that he is not alive anymore? Is GBM taking over or perhaps Kambwili the new factor in the UPNDonkeys equation?

  36. I respect HH with high esteem, but I really feel that people close to him are not advising him well, or should I say he doesn’t take their advice. You know as politician he has to be careful. Edgar Lungu is the country president and constitutionally placed. he is the sworn in president of the republic of Zambia. Mr. Hichilema must recognize that. Whether he likes it or not, Lungu will be in power upto his term of office. So HH should be busy bringing out serious political agenda rather than fighting with Lungu. He wants to become president, yet he is disregarding the constitution to recognize the president, it sounds like a contradiction to me. I believe in HH and surely he might become president, but he really need to put behind this childish politics. I believe Zambians would want a…

  37. My own advice to opposition leaders is that as you go around the country don’t just go to markets but also visit prisons, grave yards, bars and hospitals.

  38. Those castigating HH for exposing the deplorable conditions in the prisons should chill and remember that even innocent people are sometimes wrongly imprisoned. We must ensure that these prisons are transformed into correctional facilities not just in name. When all is said and done, it is evil to dehumanise even “criminals”.

    • We all know Zambian prisons are not a Pamodzi Taj. Far from it. Just include in your manifesto how you’re going to improve them because you never know you could end up there.

  39. This has always been known that the prisons in Zambia are not good. But when one sell the mines and gets commission and becomes a millionaire overnight the contrast of his or her life and that of prison cannot be less than death chamber or trap. If the state that owns the prisons is deprived of the much needed tax by tax evaders in the name of press freedom where will the government get its money to improve health care, education and improve the standard of living for its citizens? But seemingly a joker would like the Govt to find money to improve the prisons without money. These prisons have been like that even when some people where undervaluing national assets to enrich themselves.

  40. The man (HH) looks healthier from prison than when he was campaigning outside the prison he also looks healthier the law abiding citizens who are busy selling merchandise in the streets and markets to make ends meet. But still he describes the prisons as death chambers??, not sure what suggestion he has made to improve them. Easier said than done.

  41. If Zambian prisons are death chambers, how did HH himself come out of Mukobeko alive. HH’s arrogance will be sorted out his own tribesmen. Since some Tonga Chiefs are enriching themselves by selling large areas of grazing land to HH, then the Tongas and Ilas under Hamududu will teach him a bitter lesson.

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