Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Friday laid the first stone for the construction of a new prison complex at Moamba, about 60 kilometres northwest of Maputo.
The complex, which will be the first new prison built in the country since independence in 1975, will cost 250 million US dollars. According to the contractor, Luis Mendes, the complex will have 625 compartments, with a capacity to house 2,820 inmates. This capacity should significantly reduce current levels of overcrowding in Mozambican jails.
In addition to the prison, the complex will contain training facilities for prison guards, and a shopping centre for residents of Moamba town.
At the existing Moamba practical school for prison guards, Guebuza chaired a ceremony where 430 guards graduated, after a nine month course.
Guebuza declared that the training of these new guards, 30 per cent of whom are women, is of great important in improving the performance of the National Prison Service (SERNAP). Currently the prisons are facing a shortage of guards: before this latest intake the prison system only had one guard for every 13 inmates.
This was the first time in the country's history that a course for prison guards took place in SERNAP's own installations. Previously, such courses were held in the Police Basic Training school at Matalane, in the neighbouring district of Marracuene.
“This school is a guarantee that the prison services will carry out their mission efficiently”, declared Guebuza. “Mozambicans are taking control of their own destinies. This is a development that will make us all proud as Mozambicans”.
He stressed that appropriate and good quality training for prison staff is one of the main ingredients for the success of the reform of the country's prison system. “This will improve the capacity of the guards to face and overcome challenges”, Guebuza added.
“This is the beginning of a new phase that you should meet with zeal and responsibility”, the President told the newly graduated guards. “The mission given to you is the noble one of guaranteeing that the prisoner finds his self-esteem again and reconciles with the law”.