Mozambique: Deputies Visit Top Security Prison

Maputo – When deputies from the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Monday visited the Maputo top security prison (known as the “BO”), they found prisoners who claimed they were still in jail despite serving their full sentences.

One man, named only as Orlando, who was the spokesperson for all the inmates, told the deputies he had been waiting for his release papers from the Attorney-General’s Office for a year and a half.

Among its various task, the Attorney-General’s Office is supposed to safeguard legality in the country’s prisons. But Orlando claimed that the attorneys have not bothered to discover the true situation of the inmates.

“There are many problems inside the prison, including failure to comply with court decisions”, he said.

The head of the parliamentary delegation, Edson Macuacua, who chairs the parliamentary commission on legal and constitutional matters, told the prisoners that the Assembly is currently revising the legal codes on the implementation of prison sentences and other penalties, as well as the Penal Procedural Code.

“We are working on revising these codes which will later benefit everybody”, he said, to applause from the inmates.

The deputies said they were satisfied with the administrative changes in the prison, which had transformed it for the better. At the end of the visit Macuacua told the prison management he recognized the difficulties inherent in handling the country’s largest concentration of dangerous criminals.

“Managing this establishment, which houses the most dangerous prisoners in the country, is not easy”, he said. “However, we note that the hygiene, diet and health conditions have improved”.

The BO is overcrowded. It has the capacity to hold 600 inmates, but currently 748 people are incarcerated here. 36 of the inmates are foreigners, including 15 Tanzanians, nine Nigerians and three Zimbabweans.

There are 260 staff in the prison, 45 of whom are women. There is a secondary school and a church in the prison, and an ambulance that can take sick prisoners to hospital.

There are five cooks in the prison kitchens, producing meals under what are regarded as acceptable conditions of hygiene. The diet changes every three days, but the most common items are fish, beans, rice and maize porridge.

Source: All Africa