Mozambican Opposition Renamo Condemns Ndlavela Women’s Prison Scandal

Unsettling report reveals guards at Maputo's women's prison are selling inmates to clients for sex, and beating those that refuse.

The Renamo spokesperson, Jose Manteigas has condemned in strong terms, recent claims that guards at the Maputo Special Penitentiary for Women (EPEMM), popularly known as the Ndlavela Women’s Prison, had forced women inmates into prostitution.

Mozamque’s main opposition party, Renamo, on Monday  said its party and its leader, Ossufo Momade, are urging the justice system to penalise, in an exemplary fashion, the criminal behaviour of all those involved in the scandal, so as to discourage similar attitudes in future.

some inmates at the Ndlavela Women’s Prison

“Renamo and its leader see the commission of inquiry created and spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice as another simulation intended to entertain Mozambicans, but without bringing about any outcome, as happened in other situations in the past,”, he said.

The shocking scandal first surfaced on Tuesday last week in the wake of a damning investigation by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), which found that prison guards were running a racket in which women prisoners were forced into selling sex.

For five months, CIP investigated this scandal and investigators, pretending to be clients interested in buying prisoners for sex, infiltrated the clandestine network operated by prison guards. The material gathered by CIP includes videos of aspects of the prostitution racket, interviews with several of the victims, and mobile phone messages between prison guards and supposed clients.

CIP says prison guards negotiate in advance how much clients (usually wealthy people) will pay and for how long. The guards can receive around $48 to $484 for each prisoner delivered, the organisation says.

Justice Minister Helena Kida paid an unannounced visit to the prison the next day, where she interacted with the prison management as well as some inmates to get a broader view of the situation exposed by the CIP investigation. On Thursday, she suspended the entire EPEMM management.

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