ONGWEDIVA – Some correctional officers are not trusted by their superiors anymore, as they smuggle contraband, get into business, befriend and even get involved in romantic relationships with inmates.
A concerned commissioner general of Namibian Correctional Services Raphael Hamunyela said, this year alone, more than 10 correctional services officers were relieved of their duties for smuggling cell phones to inmates in exchange for bribes.
In a telephonic interview with New Era, Hamunyela said many of the culprits were based at the Windhoek correctional facility, where numerous inmates are caught with cell phones daily.
He said prison officers are easily convinced with money and do everything in their power to benefit the inmates.
Hamunyela said prison officers normally get paid money from the well-off inmates in exchange for favours, such as buying phones.
“Every day, we confiscate lots of smartphones from the inmates. They are just in contact with friends, relatives and prison officers,” he said.
He stressed the issue of cell phones being smuggled into the correctional facilities is now becoming a big challenge because prison officers cannot be trusted.
In April, Nampa reported former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and his Fishrot co-accused James Hatuikulipi were allegedly found in possession of cell phones at the Windhoek correctional facility, where they are awaiting trial.
Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo have been charged for allegedly smuggling cell phones into their prison cells.
Hamunyela further explained some prison officers are in contact with relatives of the inmates because they are always sent to their relatives to collect money from them.
“Many inmates have become best friends with prison officers, as they are always communicating for business purposes, and other inmates scam people outside, posting adverts on social media,” he said.
Furthermore, Hamunyela said prison officers are committed to search whenever the relatives come to visit their people in the correctional facilities to find out if they have cell phones and drugs.
“We have also noted prison officers are still in relationships with inmates,” he added.
Hamunyela said text messages between female officers and Fishrot accused led to the dismissal and resignation of some officers.
Therefore, Hamunyela urged the public to work together with his office.
“We will deal with all those prison officers who are smuggling cell phones to the inmates, and they will become an example to others,” he said.