Malawi’s longest serving prisoner Yale Maonga, 47, who has been incarcerated for 29 years said when he walked out to freedom that “God has been on my side. God has been faithful to me. I could have been dead and forgotten a long time ago.”
Maonga, who was jailed when he was 18 year old in 1991 and dubbed the “eternal inmate” by prison officials, was arrested and charged with murder.
He spent two years on remand at Zomba Maximum Security Prison, the before he was convicted and sentenced in July 1993 to death sentence.
The ex-convict was jailed for reducing to pulp a man after catching him red-handed in bed with his wife.
For 29 year, Maonga – from Nsanama Village in Paramount Chief Kawinga’s area in Machinga, – has served his sentence at Mikuyu, Kasungu, Domasi and Chichiri prisons.
Now is has goe home to his sister—one of the few relatives who used to visit him in prison.
He was escorted to his sister’s place in Machinga by Youth Coalition for the Consolidation of Democracy (YCD) executive director Francis Folley. YCD provided transport and was accompanied by Chichiri Prison Service public relations officer Julius Magombo.
“It feels good to walk to freedom and go home after all these years I have spent in jail. Especially that I am going out alive and healthy,” said Maonga when bade farewell to inmates and Chichiri Prison officers, according to quotes reported by Weekend Nation newspaper.
Maong said his wife died seven years ago and doesn’t know the whereabouts of his son .
His capital punishment in 1997 was commuted to life imprisonment following a review of murder cases. The son was three years in 1991. Malawi Prison Services reduce by a third his sentence from his 42-year jail term to 29 years for good behaviour under the Kafantayeni Project.
“Commutation of my sentence to life imprisonment is one of my most memorable times in prison,” the paper quotes him saying.
The Kafantayeni Project is a Tilitonse Fund-sponsored project where murder cases and those sentenced to life imprisonment are being reheard. As of 2017, some 112 convicts had been released and 41 of them had their jail terms revised.
Maonga claimed that his execution was postponed three times “for reasons only known by prison management. I was on the waiting list of people to be executed for a whole year as the country prepared for the referendum in 1993”.
After the country’s multiparty elections in 1994, president Bakili Muluzi refused to sign death warrants. Since then no president has sent a convict on death row to the gallows.
Meanwhile, YCD has also set aside K500 000 to help in counselling and guiding Maonga as he starts life anew.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :