Brazil’s prison complex of Bangu, where Namibia’s crestfallen would-be Olympian boxer Jonas Junius, who has been accused of rape, will possibly spend the next couple of weeks is a hellish, rat-infested prison, where inmates sleep on beds made of solid concrete and share food with the notorious penitentiary’s resident giant rats.
Bangu, where the prison is located is a middle-class neighbourhood in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, known for having the worst air quality in Rio de Janeiro.
It appears the planners of the prison complex wanted to mimic hell as closely as they could, as the penitentiary is located in an area known also for high temperatures that easily exceed 40 °C degrees in summer.
Bangu Penitentiary Complex is a maximum-security prison composed of 17 penal units, nine of which are penitentiaries, four safe-houses and one penal sanatorium. There are also two hospitals. In the language of Tupi the word Bangu means ‘a black wall’.
The mere mention of the word Bangu sends shivers down the spines of the most crime-hardened thugs on the streets of the slums of Rio de Janeiro.
During one prison riot at Bangu over 30 inmates died, some of them brutally beheaded, while some burned to death.
The penitentiary is also infamous for the type of bloody gang violence that has featured in Brazilian movies, including ‘Tropa de Elite’.
Notorious Brazilian drug lord Fernandhinho Beira-Mar was also once held at Bangu Penitentiary Complex from 2001 to 2003, before he was eventually transferred to a super-maximum prison.
Bangu prison’s inmates use collective squat toilets. Visitors to the prison are engulfed in a noxious stench from overflowing sewers.
Prisoners wash their bodies with bars of soap cut into thin slices by highly alert guards looking for possible contraband, such as cocaine and other drugs.
Although the conditions are pathetic its inmates apparently draw some relief from the fact that there is a steady diet of rice and beans and at times bits of meat.
Update on Junias’ case
The Namibian delegation to the Olympics in Rio meanwhile released an update on the arrest of boxer Jonas Junius yesterday. The NNOC said it has hired Brazilian lawyers to fight Junius’ case and is trying to get the boxer released as soon as possible to enable him weigh in ahead of his scheduled fight on Thursday.
“We’re doing everything humanely possible to get our boxer out within the next 12 hour to be available for weighing within 24 hours,” the NNOC said.