About 20 inmates from Maula Prison received some reprieve on Friday after the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court granted them bail or discharged them during a camp court held at the prison.
Centre for Legal Assistance (Cela) facilitated the camp court to reduce congestion at the prison which occurred during the just ended festive period.
Cela executive director Charles Kasambara said in an interview on Sunday that 43 people on remand at Maula prison appeared before the camp court presided over by the magistrate Rebecca Ng’oma.
About eight have been given unconditional release after the State withdrew the charges, while 12 were released on bail pending court hearings.
“It is sad that the remand for most of these people had expired long ago. Then after so long, the State withdraws charges. They could sue for unlawful imprisonment because they were held for more than 48 hours,” Kasambara said.
But he added that as Cela they were satisfied at the number of cases which the magistrate was able to preside over because such a slight movement would give the inmates their day in court much quicker.
“We are satisfied that the remaining 23 cases will be reactivated after this camp court. When files lie dormant, there is a danger because people end up staying on remand for many years,” Kasambara said.
Cela has also held a legal clinic at Dedza Prison and plans to initiate a similar camp court to reduce congestion.
Dedza Prison was to hold 80 inmates but currently has 321 (11 of whom are women) which is posing a danger to the inmates health.