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SA women prisoners 'abused' in Mozambique

Sapa

Claims that SA female prisoners are mistreated in Mozambique's jails will be brought up with authorities, says the international relations department.

A newspaper reported that more than a dozen South African women were being held in shocking conditions and denied basic necessities, including toothpaste. (AFP)

Mozambican authorities will be told about reports that South African female prisoners are sexually abused and denied basic necessities in that country, the department of international relations and co-operation said on Monday.

"The South African government views these allegations in a serious light," spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said in a statement.

"The matter will be brought to the attention of the Mozambican authorities for further investigations."

The Sunday Times reported that more than a dozen South African women were being held in shocking conditions and denied basic necessities, including toothpaste.

The newspaper reported that warders demanded sex in exchange for soap or bread, and that the women survived on rotten beans and fish.

One of the prisoners died in 2012 after she could not get proper medical care.

'Poor medical treatment'
Another woman, Ouma Thoko Maleke, was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to 12 years behind bars. She gave birth two years ago and her child had never seen the outside world.

Nozipho Ikgihagu, who was arrested on September 9 last year, was eight months pregnant and spent 40 days in solitary confinement after an attempted escape.

Kgwete said officials from the South African high commission in Maputo regularly visited prisons in Mozambique to monitor the condition of South African inmates.

"During the last visit, the prisoners complained about general prison conditions, such as poor medical treatment and food," he said. "Our information is that these conditions apply to all prisoners and are not exclusive to South African prisoners."

He said the South African government would continue to render regular consular services to the prisoners and their families, part of which was to ensure that their basic human rights were respected.

"The South African high commission in Maputo will monitor the progress of the envisaged investigation until the matter is brought to its logical conclusion." – Sapa

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