The country’s correctional facilities are close to full capacity, with inmates occupying 81% of available places, while the infrastructure is falling apart.
Commissioner General of the Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) Raphael Hamunyela told a parliamentary standing committee yesterday that 4 250 out of the 5 265 spaces are occupied in the nation’s jails, while auditor general Junias Kandjeke said there is lack of maintenance done at correctional facilities, which has resulted in the overall condition being poor, with the exception of the recently built women’s section in Windhoek.
Hamunyela and his team appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security yesterday.
He informed parliamentarians the Windhoek Correctional Facility, which has a capacity of 1 030 places, currently houses 1 031 inmates.
Kandjeke’s sentiments are contained in the recently released audit report, focusing on the 2016 to 2019 financial years.
The report is a follow up on the overcrowding in correctional facilities under the custodian of the ministry of safety and security.
From the 4 250 inmates, Hamunyela said 328 are foreigners, while six are juveniles.
Then ombudsman John Walters sued the minister of social welfare Doreen Sioka after she failed to provide a detailed plan to establish child-friendly jails across the country by the end of March this year.
Hamunyela said, of the 4 250 inmates, 4 116 are male, while the female population stands at 134. Of the 4 250, 4 170 inmates are sentenced, while 80 inmates are awaiting sentence.
“Majority of the cells had non-functional toilets, broken windows, inadequate beddings and an overall lack of hygiene,” said Kandjeke.
He further said, for the majority of the facilities visited, they had inadequate beddings and mattresses, and offenders were wearing their own clothes, as the Namibian Correctional Services failed to provide them with uniforms.
The auditors visited the Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Omaruru, Keetmanshop and Oluno correctional facilities.
The Walvis Bay facility, which has a capacity of 300 inmates, currently has 219 inmates.
He said the Gobabis facility that has a capacity of 220 has 195 inmates, whereas the Omaruru facility, with a capacity of 59, has 88 inmates.
The Swakopmund facility, with a capacity of 88 inmates, has 98, while the Hardap facility, with a capacity of 941 has 670 inmates.
The Lüderitz facility that has a capacity of 290 has 178 inmates, while Keetmanshoop facility, with a capacity of 110 inmates, has 97.
Hamunyela said the Oluno facility, which has a capacity of 557 inmates, currently has 591 convicts.
“Auditors observed that up to 15 offenders are accommodating a cell with a capacity of nine at Oluno Correctional Facility. Hence, offenders were sleeping on the floor, as there were no beds, beddings and mattresses. More offenders occupied beds without mattresses, compared to other correctional facilities visited,” explained Kandjeke.
The Evaristus Shikongo facility that has a capacity of 800 inmates has 521.
The Divindu facility has 271 prisoners, with capacity of 480, whereas the Elizabeth Nepemba facility that has a capacity of 320 inmates has 217. The Grootfontein facility has 74 inmates, with a capacity of 70.
Hamunyela further told legislators the biggest challenge faced by NCS is insufficient budget, which resulted in the shortage of staff, officers in uniform, official accommodation, ICT equipment, dilapidated facilities, workshop machinery, farming equipment, security vehicles and equipment as well as office accommodation.
Briefing the MPs on the farming activities, Hamunyela said the NCS has 277 cattle, 225 goats, 122 sheep and 1 197 pigs.
He added the NCS also provide inmates with vocational training in construction, auto mechanics, leather production, aquaponics, panel- beating and spray painting, upholstery, shoe-making, furniture production, hydroponics, metal works and soap making.
Kandjeke said despite the correctional facilities having implemented 86% of the recommendations contained in the auditor general’s report of 2008, the facilities are still overcrowded.