Children born to female prisoners stay with their mothers in Prison until they are weaned, says the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi.
He added that upon weaning, such children were taken by the parents’ relatives and where there was no willing relatives, arrangements were made to hand over such children to foster care services. Kgathi said in terms of Section 66 (8) of the Prisons Act Cap 21:03 alternative care to such children is arranged through their mother’s consent. He said the Office in Charge should also be satisfied that such children could be placed under the proposed custody.
“There were 24 females found to be pregnant when criminally charged and sentenced to serve prison terms from 2014 to 2017 from 2014 till 2017. Upon admission in to prison all necessary arrangements were made for the female prisoners to enroll for Ante Natal Care (ANC) and to thereafter continue with regular monitoring until the time of delivery,” he said.
Kgathi further explained that in addition to ANC services, female prisoners eligible for enrolment in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) were also included in that programme. When due for delivery, all the concerned female
The minister also pointed out that all children begotten of female prisoners over the period in question (2014-2017) were enrolled in the Child Welfare Clinic (CWC) through which necessary immunization, growth and mental health monitoring and supplementary feeding were provided. He added that mothers who were not breastfeeding were assisted with infant formula for their children.
“All these services were rendered in line with Section 66 (7) of the Prisons Act Cap 23:01 which provides for provision of clothing and necessities to such children at government expense,” he said.
He was responding to the MP for Kanye South Abram Kesupile who asked him to state the number of females found to be pregnant when criminally charged and sentenced to serve prison terms between 2014 and 2017. He also asked the minister to state the treatment and support they received under the care of the Botswana Prison Service and how the best interest of the child are guaranteed under the Prison environment.