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05.04.2007 General News

13 Ghanaians Suffer in foreign jail

By graphic

Thirteen Ghanaian stow-aways who were alleged to have been deported from China bound for Cote D'ivore have been in jail in Mozambique for the past five months.

In an interview through a police officer's cell phone in Mozambique, one of the stowaways who gave his name only as Kofi Richard said that they boarded a ship in Cote D'ivore for China.

A Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Akwasi Osei Adjei said the ministry was not aware of such predicament of the Ghanaians in Mozambique.

He said the ministry was going to get in touch with the Ghana Mission in Zimbabwe which has oversight responsibility over Mozambique to liaise with the Foreign Ministry of that country to get to the bottom of the matter.

Mr Osei Adjei, however, asked Ghanaians not to panic because sometimes those stories turned out to be hoaxes.

Kofi Richard, 24, mentioned the names of two others who were in jail with him as George Mensah, 26, and Kokuvi, 25.

He said on reaching China, he was caught together with the 12 others and put on board a ship bound for Cote D'ivore, adding that “when we got to Mozambique, we were handed over to an agent called Jeno”.

Kofi Richard explained that the agent, who spoke English, told them that he was going to arrange for them to be flown to Cote D'ivore but he took them to the police station.

He said they had been in jail for the past five months and that they were fed only on bread and water after every three days, adding that they had not taken their baths since they were caught.

Kofi Richard said it was because of hunger that one of his colleagues, only known as Francis got angry and decided to look for food. In the process, he started fighting with the security to be allowed to go out to get food and he was shot dead.

He said presently they had been put in different jails in Mozambique, saying that he had been pleaded with one of the police officers in charge of the jail to allow him to use his cell phone to call his family in Ghana to narrate his story.

Asked if he knew where the body of his dead colleague had been taken, he said he did not know.

Kofi Richard said they did not stowaway in a group but that they met after they had been arrested, for which reason, therefore, he knew only the first names of some of his colleagues.

However three of the alleged families were located at New Takoradi.

A family member of Kofi Richard, Nicholas Hayford said the family had not seen Kofi Richard for the past six to seven months and that some months ago he called that he was in Cote D'ivore.

He said when he called from Mozambique, the police man who had given his cell phone for Kofi Richard could not communicate because the major languages of Mozambique were Portuguese(official), Makua Lomwe, Tsong, Shona and Swahili.

He said Kofi Richard limped, adding that his condition had attracted the sympathy of the of the police officer who had told the detainees that since Ghana did not have a foreign mission in Mozambique, they should get in touch with their families in Ghana.

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