By Tapuka Gerald, Friday, March 3, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – Joseph Mbah Ndam, Member of Parliament for the SDF party has revealed that more than 10 persons die every day in Kondengui maximum security prison in Yaoundé. He made the revelation last Wednesday, March 1, during an interview over the BBC World service for Africa.
In a very emotional tone Mbah Ndam said he was just coming from visiting Anglophones detained in the prison and was touched by the conditions of living there. “I visited the prison yesterday and returned from there very sadden when I talked to those who have been arrested and detained there. I discovered that most of them were sleeping on the ground. Some (Anglophones) who got wounded in the process of arrest are not being treated and the prison is overcrowded.”
He then went further to reveal that 10 prisoners die every day in the prison. This is how he put it; “In fact they told me there is an epidemic in the place and they are dying averagely 10 every day.” He said. When asked what the authorities are doing to amend the situation, Mbah Ndam said he spoke to the prison superintendent and discovered that he himself is helpless and instead counting on goodwill gestures.
Putting the blame squarely on the government, the MP said “it is quite unfortunate for us Cameroonians to have the kind of government we have today that takes decisions that are deplorable.” He wondered aloud why people are arrested in Anglophone Cameroon and
transferred to Yaoundé. Mbah Ndam, who sounded very emotional because of what he saw in Kondengui, went ahead to suggest that party issues be kept aside, and focus made on the current situation of the detainees “for what is happening concerns all Cameroonians.” He said.
In response to Mbah Ndam’s disclosure, Issa Tchiroma, Communication Minister, refuted the revelation, telling told the BBC that the description does not represent Cameroon. “It is a slanderous description of Cameroon and has nothing to do with the Cameroon we are living in,” Tchiroma said. While making reference to those arrested in Anglophone Cameroon, Tchiroma said, “their rights are being protected; they have a right to receive their Lawyers, they have the right to receive their families, this description does not concern Cameroon at all.” Responding to allegations about the daily deaths at the prison, Tchiroma in unequivocal terms said, “It is completely wrong.”
Kondengui prison was built in the 1960s, and it is noted for deplorable living conditions and including over crowdedness. With the summary arrest and transfer of Anglophones to the prison facility that was already small, conditions there have even deteriorated. Last month, French Television channel, France 24 smuggled images out of the prison exposing the shanty nature of the prison with prisoners sleeping on the floor. Back in December, the Anglophone Consortium and some human rights group alleged that some detainees were dead as the government could not account for them.