Malawi President Joyce Banda on Friday said the late Bingu wa Mutharika government did not allow her to visit the countryâ€™s prisons in her efforts to support inmates.
Banda disclosed this during her visit to Maula Prison in Lilongwe where she also narrated how security personnel made her walk from the prisonâ€™s main gate despite having leg problems when she paid a visit to Minister of Economic Planning and Development Atupele Muluzi who was imprisoned at the time.
â€œWhen I was appointed Vice-President and later appointed into the committee for prisons at my church, I thought I could do more in my work. But I was not allowed to go and visit prisons. Instead, I was just sending people to present the gifts to the inmates on my behalf,â€ she said.
Banda said inmates need support, love and acquisition of new skills to transform their lives.
But Banda did not announce pardoning of any inmates despite warning the pardons committee against injustice when selecting inmates who qualify for pardon.
JB pledges on block at Maula
The President pledged that her Joyce Banda Foundation will construct one block at the prison, adding government will also rehabilitate the kitchen with electric equipment which the inmates said caught fire last year.
Inmates representative Gift Theu complained that the courts are too slow in handling their cases, claiming that some lawyers disappear once they collect legal fees from their relatives.
â€œSome people have been on remand for about 10 years without going to court. It pains us because sometimes you get acquitted by the court after you have already stayed in prison for 10 years,â€ said Theu.
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Uladi Mussa suggested that government should extend structures in existing prisons instead of constructing a new maximum prison in Lilongwe.