Twenty-seven members of the public were arrested within the past seven months for attempting to smuggle contrabands into correctional facilities during their visits. According to the statistics released recently for the period of January to July, of the 27 arrested, 12 visitors were arrested with drugs, five were caught with cell phones, whilst 10 were arrested while trying to smuggle tobacco into the prisons.
As a result of the arrests and random searches within the prisons, 102 cell phones, 97 tobacco rolls and 71 forms of drugs, such as dagga, cocaine and mandrax, were found. Due to the rise of incidences in which visitors have tried to smuggle contrabands into the prisons, the Namibian Correctional Services will no longer allow visitors to give inmates parcels.
In a statement, head of prisons commissioner general Raphael Hamunyela said as a precautionary measure, families and friends of inmates are encouraged to deposit money into the Nampost bank accounts of inmates to enable them to buy their own toiletries, instead of bringing along parcels with them. “We sympathise with some of the arrested culprits who claim to be innocent, alleging they were just sent to bring parcels and didn’t look or know what was in those parcels or did not know who gave it to them. However, the Namibian Correctional Services will hold you accountable if you bring a parcel with prohibited articles to the correctional facility knowingly or unknowingly,” said Hamunyela.
Hamunyela said members of the public, especially businesspeople, are falling prey to scams conducted by inmates. He explained that inmates would call a certain number known to them, pretending to be potential buyers. Upon agreement, the inmates send a fake proof of payment to the seller – and although it may appear authentic, the money does not reflect in the bank account.
“We believe these scams are being perpetrated by inmates who are incarcerated in our correctional facilities but with the help of some individuals in the public,” noted Hamunyela. Hamunyela cautioned the public not to enter into transactions with unknown people on mobile phones or online platforms.