Mozambique: Justice Minister Appoints New Prison Officials

Maputo — Mozambican Justice Minister Helena Kida on Thursday swore into office Herminia Nhamuze as the new director of the Maputo Special Penitentiary for Women, better known as the Ndlavela Women's Prison.

Nhamuze, who holds the rank of deputy superintendent of the prison guards, takes over from her disgraced predecessor, Albertina Dimande. She must run a prison that became notorious in June, when the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Publc Integrity (CIP) exposed a prostitution racket run by some of the guards, who had forced women prisoners into sexual relation with male clients who paid the guards substantial sums.

A commission of inquiry was set up which, although it could not verify all of CIP's findings, concluded that guards had indeed exploited inmates, who were forced to have sex with guards and with men brought into the prison by the guards.

"Sexual abuse by prison guards are acts of torture or cruel treatment," declared the Commission, which recommended that disciplinary measures should be taken against those involved.

Kida also appointed a range of other senior prison officials, including the National Director of the Prison Inspection Service, Yazalde Viana Serafina de Sousa; the National Director of Prison Operations, Fernando Mario Sumbana; the National Director of Rehabilitation and Reinsertion, Justino Bonaze; the Director of the Maputo Maximum Security Prison, Ramos Zambuco; and the Director of the Maputo Civil Prison, Ilidio Mutola.

Kida warned the newly appointed officials to avoid corruption and other criminal practices and promised that she would be "implacable" towards offenders.

There would be no toleration for "acts of indiscipline, insubordination, corruption, illicit acts by prison staff involving inmates, and the violation of the fundamental rights of inmates", she stressed.

Kida insisted there must be greater control of legality in the prisons, where the staff must study all the legislation governing the sector.

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Kida said "We do not want any repetition of what happened at Ndlavela".

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