2 December 2012

Mozambique: No Police Car, So No Food for Prisoners

Maputo — People sentenced to jail terms by the Chemba district court, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, have received no food from the prison authorities for the past two weeks, according to a report in the Maputo daily paper “Noticias”.

The Justice Ministry runs just one prison, in the town of Caia, that is supposed to receive convicted prisoners from the four Sofala districts in the Zambezi Valley – Caia, Chemba, Marromeu and Cheringoma.

People convicted by the Chemba court are kept in a cell at the district police command, and the Chemba police has no vehicle to take them to Caia.

The men convicted include murderers and rapists. Given the shortage of cells, the police have to keep some of them in the open air.

The presiding judge of the Chemba court, Carlos Mario Paulino, denounced this situation at a meeting which the new governor of Sofala, Felix Paulo, held on Thursday with state officials in Chemba town.

Paulino said the prisoners ought to be sent to Caia, and so should people in preventive detention awaiting trial, but neither the police nor the Chemba district administration has transport available. The only alternative was to hire a minibus-taxi (known colloquially as “chapas”) to take prisoners on the 100 kilometre, three hour journey. It is far from willing whether a chapa driver would be willing to carry a convicted murderer this distance.

“We now have five convicted prisoners to send to Caia, but we have no transport”, said Paulino. “They are in a small provisional cell, and there are others, whose detention has been legalized and who ought to be in Caia.

He said that the district, provincial and central governments had been made aware of the situation.

A source in the Sofala Provincial Justice Directorate said the matter is being examined at a higher level of the institution.

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