Prisons Not for “frustration”, Catholic Archbishop in Angola Says, Decries Overcrowding

Archbishop José Manuel Imbamba of Angola’s Saurimo Archdiocese, President of the Bishops' Conference of Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe (CEAST). Credit: João Vissesse/ACI Africa

Archbishop José Manuel Imbamba of Angola’s Saurimo Archdiocese has emphasized the need to improve the living conditions of inmates at Luzia Prison in the country’s Lunda Sul Province.

Speaking to Radio Ecclesia on the sidelines of a pastoral visit to the prison on Thursday, January 4, Archbishop Imbamba weighed in on the situation at Luzia Prison. Designed for 475 inmates, Luzia Prison in Saurimo currently houses 625 inmates, 57 of whom are female. Of these, 430 are detainees and 190 convicts.

“Prison is a place for re-education, not frustration,” he said, and added, “The prison population must not exceed the capacity of its own reception space, and this can lead to dehumanization; it can lead to those situations that hurt, offend the dignity of the human person.”

The Angolan Catholic Archbishop who serves as the President of the Bishops' Conference of Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe (CEAST) emphasized the “urgent need for intervention by the relevant authorities to improve the conditions of inmates affected by overcrowding in Luzia Prison.”

“We guarantee our presence, our spiritual support, our advocacy, so that as soon as possible the prison can be a real school for re-education and reintegration into the normal life of citizens,” Archbishop Imbamba said.


He expressed concern about medical care for inmates, including the lack of adequate transportation for sick prisoners in case of an emergency since the facility does not have an ambulance.

“The prison needs an ambulance to support the patients who are there. Sometimes there is need to evacuate one or another patient and they take vehicles for detainees,” the 59-year-old Angolan Archbishop. who started his Episcopal Ministry in December 2008 said. 

He continued, “The conditions in which the prisoners are living cry out for dignity and urgent justice too because there are people who shouldn't be there.”

“There are people, especially the older ones I met there, who shouldn't be there anymore and this overcrowding is causing many of them to sleep on the floor without a mattress; we already know what that can do to human health,” he said. 

Archbishop Imbamba also emphasized the need to speed up the trial of the inmates, and have justice served “as quickly as is necessary”.

More in Africa

João Vissesse is an Angolan Journalist with a passion and rich experience in Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate.