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Guards protested against working hours ordered by the penitentiary director, Tension at the jail was only diffused five hours later after negotiations with the director who said he will take disciplinary action against the instigators. Photo: O País
A group of prison guards at Cabeça-de-Velho, the largest agricultural prison in central Mozambique, blocked access to the jail on Wednesday in protest against compulsory working hours.
The guards, who closed the prison’s main entrance gates outside the town of Chimoio in the central Mozambican province of Manica, were protesting against a new measures which they said represented a situation of overwork.
“We do 24-hour shifts and are forced to return to work a few hours later, instead of the 48 hours off we previously had,” a prison guard told Lusa.
Another guard said that the overtime recently established by the leadership causes “fatigue in the guards”, and reduced their ability to maintain control, “which could lead to the escape of inmates”.
Tensions both inside and outside the jail were only overcome about five hours later, after negotiations with the prison director, who was outside the institution at the time.
Penitentiary director Mendes Araújo said that the extension of hours was to avoid the escape of inmates after part of the perimeter fence collapsed in the wake of the rains that hit Chimoio city in January.
Araújo further noted that he had identified seven prison guards who had instigated the rebellion, and promised disciplinary processes in response.