There has been running battles at prisons facilities in Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu where the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers and Malawi police are fighting with the striking prison officers have blocked the roads leading to the prison. However, at Maula Prison in Lilongwe the situation has been calm.
The junior prison officers who have been holding their sit-in strike since Thursday are demanding for promotions, general welfare and their inclusion in the National Response to Coronavirus. as it has done with the MDF, Police and Immigration department.
“We receive about 10 to 15 new prisoners every day but they are not even quarantined , we only check their temperature, ” said the Mzuzu prison spokesperson Macbirth Wasambo in an interview.
Wasambo also highlighted that government is yet to honor its decision of pardoning some prisoners to ensure social distance prevention measure.
In Zomba, army soldiers started beating prison officers in order to disperse them.
After managing to disperse them, the soldiers are the ones guarding the prison premises.
The warders warned that they would only resume work once government through the Ministry of Homeland Security responds to their demands dating back to 2017.
“Our colleagues in other security institutions like Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service are promoted every year and I fail to understand why it is so difficult for us,” said one of the warders speaking on condition of anonymity.
“I have worked on the same position for 34 years now and what explanation could be given for such stagnation. What we need now are promotions and not dialogues,” he said.
On the risk allowance, the warders said, just like health workers, they too, are subjected to a group of people who might be infected by the coronavirus.
While government allocated funds to Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service and Immigration Department from the National Response to Coronavirus, prison officer were sidelined, a development that irked the officers and triggered the strike.
Malawi Prison Spokesperson, Chimwemwe Shaba said the prison management would do its best to make sure that the concerns of the warders are addressed so that the situation could to normal.
Malawi Inspectorate of Prisons has recommended the release of 184 inmates but the warders will not release them until their grievances are addressed.