“This prison is hell on earth. We are in prison despite paying the fine,” a tearful 15-year-old Eyasu Tadiya told AFP inside Dedza prison, 85 kilometres (50 miles) south of Lilongwe, the administrative capital.
Eyasu, looking weak and thin, said he had been on his way to join his father in South Africa, but had now given up hope of making it to the continent’s most developed economy.
“The journey has ended here and I just want to go back home rather than suffer in this way,” he said.
Prisons spokesman Evance Phiri told AFP the inmates were held even after they had paid their fines or finished their sentences because of a lack of funds to send them home.