It was Christmas unlike any other for Eva Mponela and Jean Ng’ambi, thanks to a news article published in The Nation.
The convicted mothers, who were nursing babies at Mzuzu Prison for four months, finally walked free on Christmas Eve after Mzuzu City member of Parliament (MP) Leonard Njikho paid their outstanding fines.
Njikho said he was touched by the plight of the children since September 2 when magistrate Lillian Munthali committed their mothers to nine months imprisonment after they had failed to pay K50 000 (about $76) for unlawfully wounding their neighbour, Peter Kaleso, 25.
However, the two babies, both aged under one, also plunged into jail.
After their release on Saturday, the women thanked Njikho for what they called “the most memorable Christmas gift ever”.
“It’s a wonderful day. Life in prison is not easy, but raising babies in there is much tougher. May God bless the MP for coming to our rescue,” Ng’ambi said.
Njikho said he was moved after learning about the plight of the innocent babies from the Commissioner of Police (CoP) for the North who had seen the photos of the two women with babies in The Nation last week.
He recounted: “I thank The Nation for exposing what is happening behind the walls. When the CoP told me about the women on Wednesday, I rushed to the prison where I was shocked to see innocent babies growing up in jail due to the offence committed by their mothers.”
Mzuzu Prison officer in-charge Herrings Nyalubwe said the prison was struggling to offer the children a balanced diet due to prevailing delays and shortage of funding for prisons.