Two men were recently convicted and each sentenced to six years imprisonment for being in possession of rhino horn. File picture: Timothy A Clary

Cape Town - The Pretoria government says it will ask Mozambican authorities to investigate reports that South African drug mules in a Maputo jail are being sexually abused and maltreated in other ways.

“The South African government views these allegations in a serious light,” the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said on Sunday. “The matter will be brought to the attention of the Mozambican authorities for further investigation.”

The Sunday Times reported that 15 South African women were being held in Maputo’s central prison after being convicted of transporting drugs from Brazil or India. It said one woman had died in prison because she did not get proper medical care.

Several women alleged that they were forced to have sex with prison warders in exchange for necessities such as soap or sanitary towels.

Many of the women said they were eligible for parole or release, but were being kept in jail because they were unable to pay bribes to warders. They said South African diplomats had done nothing to help them.

The department said it had been told the conditions applied to all prisoners.

Consular services would continue to be provided and diplomats would check that the Mozambican authorities were properly investigating their allegations. - Independent Foreign Service

Cape Times