Golden beaches, luxury hotels, for most of us Mauritius is a dream destination. But there are also 25,000 heroin addicts among the local population. And South African drug mules, lured by the promise of easy money, are now paying the price in a Mauritian prison.
Central Prison  

Among the five prisons restricted to adults, the Central Prison, as indicated by its name is the most important one. In fact, it accommodates the largest number of detainees. It is a maximum security prison which came into operation on the lst of May 1887. Every man, sentenced to imprisonment, is sent to the Central Prison situated at Beau-Bassin. Depending either upon the nature of the crime committed, his previous offences or his police record, he may be transferred to another penal institution.

Richelieu Open Prison

This prison is an open one. It is characterized firstly by an absence of physical barriers for it is bounded by a thin metallic fence, and secondly by a system of rehabilitation based on self-discipline and the development of the detainees' sense of responsibility. In this institution, the detainees have the opportunity to learn and be engaged in different jobs. There is also a farm where the detainees can acquire basic knowledge of cattle and pig breeding.

Grand River North West Prison

This prison, situated at Grand River North West, was inaugurated on the 10th of October 1995. It is a maximum security prison and can accommodate 325 detainees. Actually, there are 171 untried detainees and about 40 convicted detainees are located there to perform minor works.

Petit Verger Prison

Petit Verger Prison is a medium security prison which can accommodate 416 detainees. It became operational in 1982. In this institution, apart from the daily routine works, detainees have the possibility to be trained in cattle, sheep and goat rearing as well as in agriculture. There is also a brick factory where many of the detainees work.

Phoenix Prison

La Bastille, situated at Phoenix, is a high security prison. It became operational on the 10th of December 1980 and can accommodate a maximum of 25 detainees. Detainees committing aggravated prison defaults and those who are either considered as incorrigible or exercising bad influences on others are segregated thereat.

Women Prison

This prison became operational 11th of May 1951. It can accommodate a maximum of 146 female detainees. It is worth mentioning that during the period preceeding the opening of the actual Women Prison, the female prisoners were detained at Port-Louis Prison, in Maillard Street where a small yard was reserved for them.

Correctional Youth Centre

The Correctional Youth Centre, previously known as "Borstal", is situated at Barkly, Beau-Bassin. The Correctional Youth Centre, previously known as "Borstal", is situated at Barkly, Beau-Bassin. This institution keeps in safe custody young male offenders from 16 to 21 years of age who because of their criminal tendencies and association with anti-social elements, need to be put under constant supervision and under such instruction and discipline as appear most conducive to their reformation. The system of training aims at strengthening character and is based on progressive trust towards the development of self discipline and self responsibility.

Rehabilitation Youth Centre

In fact, there are two rehabilitation centres, one for boys and the other for girls respectively. These centres, situated at Barkly in two different yards, accommodate boys and girls below 16 and 18 years respectively who are found guilty of criminal tendencies and association with anti-social elements, or indulging in deviant behaviours. Besides, children who no longer submit to parental authority, are sent there on the advice of the Probation Service. On their release, the Probation Service provides supervision over these juvenile delinquents in order to facilitate their integration in society. Apart from the vocational training received during their detention, the children have the possibility to indulge in activities which help them to acquire a sense of responsibility and self-discipline.

New Wing Prison

The New Wing is a high security prison. It adjacent to the Central Prison Beau Bassin. It is operational since the 6 March, 2003 .It can accommodate 248 detainees.

Visiting Schedule
Convicts Remands
Condition Of Visits Once every 28 days Once Weekly
No. of Visitors 3 persons 3 persons
Days* Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday Tuesday, Thursday
Time 9:00 -15:00 9:00-15:00

Prison Population figures [as at 7 JUNE 2007]

Improvement in Law and Order in the country has in turn improved efficiency of the Police in apprehending offenders and bringing the latter under Judicial control.  Subsequently, the Prison population is as follows:


Number of Convicted & Remand Detainees as at  7 JUNE 2007


Beau Bassin Prison 83 884 967
New Wing 171 103 274
Grand River North West Remand Prison 247 36 283
Richelieu Open Prison 0 149 149
Petit Verger Prison 0 314 314
Phoenix Prison 02 09 11
Women Prison 30 83 113
Correctional Youth Centre 15



Rehabilitation Youth Centre (Boys)

03 07 10

Rehabilitation Youth Centre (Girls)

04 19 20


555 1606 2161
No. of Babies at Women's Prisons: 04 = 01 boy + 03 girls
No. of Babies at RYC (Girls) := 01 boy

Republic of Mauritius Prison Service - Click Here for information on the prison service

Statistics - Click Here for information on Prison Statistics
  • Recidivism
  • Drug offences
  • Youth offences
  • Adult Males/Females
  • Suicides
  • Escapes

US State Department Reports on Human Rights Practices - - Click Here for information
About Mauritius
An island nation off the coast of Africa in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometers east of Madagascar. Source

Prime Minister's Office Ministry of Defence and Home Affairs - Click Here

Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions - Click Here

National Agency for The Treatment and Rehabilitation of Substance Abusers (NATRESA)- Click Here

Government of Mauritius Web Portal- Click Here
Services for Prisoners [includes photo's]
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  • Education
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Click Here For a complete list of contacts for all Mauritius Prisons

Central Prison, Beau Bassin (230)4542061 (230)4643359
New Wing (230)4542068
Richelieu Open Prison (230)2336669 (230)2332035
Grand River North West Prison (230)2337048 (230)2336879
Petit Verger Prison (230)2344591 (230)2347753
Phoenix Prison (230)6868360 (230)6869131
Women Prison (230)4656281 (230)4656281
Rehabilitation Youth Centre(Boys) (230)4542041 -
Rehabilitation Youth Centre(Girls) (230)5661454 -
Correctional Youth Centre (230)4643732 (230)4678740
Prisoner: Brigene Young
Nationality: South African
Age: 20 years old [as at 2006]
Gender: Female
Sentence: Seven years for heroin smuggling [Release date: 2013]
Case Information:
Brigene Young was 20 years old when she was arrested for smuggling heroin into Mauritius in the heels of her shoes. Now, after a wait of more than three years in Mauritius's Beau-Bassin prison, the 23-year-old has finally learnt the cost of carrying 896,9g of heroin into the country: another seven years in jail.

Young, who was sentenced more than a week ago, is one of 28 South Africans currently languishing in Mauritian jails after being caught in possession of drugs. The largely female contingent of South African prisoners can wait up to four years before they are sentenced - a situation that prompted 11 women prisoners to go on a hunger strike earlier this year.

Read more: click here

Anneline Mouton: 10 years for smuggling heroin.

Charnelle Ottley: 10 years for smuggling heroin.

Crysella Schuster: awaiting trial for three years.

Marjorie van Vuuren: awaiting trial for four years.

Bill Burger: committed suicide while awaiting trial.

Johann Gerber: sentenced 9 years.

Susan Dalziel: Australian detained in Mauritius. read more here

Prisoner: Johann Gerber
Nationality: South African
Age: 19 years old [as at 2007]
Gender: Male
Family: Mother Patricia Gerber.
Sentence: 9 years for heroin smuggling [release date 2015]
Case Information:
Nineteen-year-old Johann Gerber travelled to Mauritius in August 2005, with 920 grams of heroin in his stomach. He was arrested at the Maritim Hotel after the police received a tip-off. But he claimed he was coerced into being a drug mule by a syndicate in South Africa.

Mike Bolhuis (Specialised Security Services): "He was threatened that if he did not do it either he or his family would be killed."

Mike Bolhuis is a private investigator hired by the Gerbers.

Mike: "We found out in his specific case that he was forced under gun point to traffic drugs through to Mauritius."

Johann thought he was taking important documents to Mauritius. A private investigator working undercover for Mike has infiltrated the syndicate.

"Deon" (Private Investigator): "He arrived in Cape Town and was picked up at the bus station and taken to a hotel. He was then forced over three or four days to swallow the drugs. They call it bullets. One bag is 10g of heroin."

But in Mauritius, Johann claims he couldn't find the people he was meant to deliver the drugs to, so he dumped the bags in the hotel gardens. When he got back to his room, the police were waiting for him, and he immediately showed them where the drugs were. The recruiter believes Johann was used as a decoy by the syndicate.

"Piet": "They call the airport and say, 'Okay, there's a person coming with this surname, who looks like this, he's wearing such and such, then the whole airport's attention is on that person.' And while they catch and arrest that person, maybe someone else with three to 5kg gets through into that country. If you get caught and you get into trouble, it's your problem. They just move on to the next one."

It's been almost a year since Pat last saw her son. She travels by bus to a district outside the capital called Beau Bassin. The prison, built 170 years ago, is hidden behind high, impenetrable walls. But what are the conditions like inside?

Peter: "At eight o'clock in the morning they turn the water off. So if you don't have a bottle of water for the day you get pretty dehydrated because nobody will give you any water. The toilets are incredible. At times there are 120 people in the yard and there are about four working toilets, which are porcelain holes in the ground. There are no flush systems. That prison was built in 1836 so it is invested with cockroaches and bugs. You wake up in the middle of the night and there are cockroaches running over you, mice, rats, the whole story."

Whenever a South African is arrested in Mauritius, the Anti-Drug Smuggling Unit -ADSU- sends a report through to the South African police. Last year a task team was sent to Mauritius to investigate

Deven: "We interviewed several of these couriers and a lot of information came through, but it wasn't very substantial information."

Pat Gerber met up with the South African police at the consulate.

Pat: "They came here and they spent plus minus five days in a resort. They didn't take a single statement."

Deven: "We didn't take any statements at that time the Mauritians were very helpful. They gave us all the statements that they had taken from all of the persons that were arrested."

But those statements were written by the Mauritian police says the investigator.

"Dean": "They were not given any opportunity to write their own statements. Those statements were written for them and they were just forced to sign."

Naicker believes that Johann Gerber's story is a fabrication.

Deven: "When I interviewed him and asked him specifically did anybody force you to go he said no. Did anybody point a gun at you and he said no. Gerber's developed a habit of consuming drugs. He was a drug addict."

Devi: "How do you know that?"

Deven: "Our intelligence told us that. After we came back and investigated him we found out that he was a drug user. He had built up a big debt with this specific syndicate and he had to pay that. The sole purpose of his trafficking drugs to Mauritius was actually to pay off his drug debt."

But the private investigator believes that like their colleagues at the airport, organised crime are reluctant to investigate the syndicate.

Devi: "Do you know who the members of the syndicate are?"

"Deon": "I know many of the top members. I know where they stay. I have visited their premises. I investigated them. They are familiar to me."

Devi: "You say you gave these details to the police, who exactly?"

"Deon": "I approached organised crime in Cape Town and I approached organised crime in Pretoria as well."

Deven: "We had a meeting with Gerber and his private investigator and he had said that he has all this information. We were willing to listen to what he had."

"Deon": "But as soon as the meeting started they attacked me and asked me who gave me permission to investigate and I have no authority to have done it. It was like they tried to make me the villain in the situation."

Back in Mauritius, Pat is on her way to see Johann's barrister. Jean-Claude Bibi is the former minister of justice and also served as the Mauritian High Commissioner to Australia.

Jean-Claude Bibi (Barrister): "If he's found guilty it carries the penalty of 45 years in jail. It should be said that previously that this kind of offence carried the penalty of death by hanging."

Of the 27 South African detainees, only 10 have been sentenced. Most have spent more than three years awaiting trial, but once they are sentenced, the time already served is not taken into account.

Devi: "Last year all the South Africans imprisoned in Mauritius sent a petition to the South African government asking that they be transferred to South African prisons. But this is unlikely to happen any time soon."

Dayanand Naidoo (Dept. of Foreign Affairs): "The position of government is that we will not enter into prisoner transfer agreements. So that means if a crime is committed in a particular country the person will serve the sentence and the conditions that are applicable in that particular country."

Dayanand Naidoo is the Chief Director of Consular Services for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Naidoo: "Government does not interfere into the judicial process whether in South Africa or abroad."

Johann Gerber appeared in the Supreme Court of Mauritius last week. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment and a fine of 50 000 rupees.


Holiday in Hell for Drug Mule - 24 March 2006 by Tisha Steyn, Die Burger: click here
Information for South African citizens click here

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Friends/Family of South African Detainees Abroad Providing assistance to detainees and their families click here Updates on SA Prisoners in Mauritius etc…

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All information is © Copyright 1997 - 2006 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff
All information is © Copyright 1997 - 2006 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff