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Art from the cells

2023-10-06  Paheja Siririka

Art from the cells

An inmate’s artwork sold for N$2 000 at the recently-concluded Windhoek Show, giving impetus to the mandate of the Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) of rehabilitating those who have been incarcerated.

The piece by Michael Tsowaseb is a boat made from wood and various recycled products. It was bought by a local arts enthusiast.

Lesley Kujarukuaije Tjiriange is a correctional officer at the Windhoek Correctional Facility, who stated that the proceeds from the sale of the artworks go to the inmates so that they can buy necessities.

“But we have started a revolving fund for the Art and Craft Project. We want to at least start saving a little bit so assist inmates who are interested in arts,” he added.

Tjiriange, who is an arts graduate and heads the offenders’ Recreation, Arts and Crafts programme, said the revolving fund will assist with the procurement of materials. At the moment, the inmates are making use of recycled materials. 




He said for some inmates, art is an inborn talent, while for others it’s an area of interest.

“For some, it is sheer commitment and also willingness to learn and produce something worthy of being sold to the public,” he noted. 

The head of the Windhoek Correctional Facility, deputy commissioner Veikko Armas said the art factor in the rehabilitation process has led to inmates being so preoccupied that some hardly have time to get involved in illegal activities while in prison.

“In addition to other programmes such as bricklaying, welding and plumbing, this is for inmates who are passionate about art and other skills they want to hone. We are assisting them to advance their skills which they can use outside upon their release,” he said.

 Armas stated that there are inmates who are handy and use their hands to create artistic items. He thus emphasised the need to create a platform and opportunities for inmates to advance their artistic talents.

The correctional service is currently engaging with the agriculture ministry so that it can supply wood to the inmates who are interested in carpentry.

“This is part of the organograms to ensure the inmates are not left out, and that we are not only focusing on vocational training. We also want to focus on the art part,” said Armas.

Commissioner Sam Shaalulange penned a piece on the NCS’s rehabilitation framework, stating that they have adopted the Offender Risk Management Correctional Strategy (ORMCS), an evidence-based approach which hinges on managing inmates according to the risk factors that they possess.

He stated that the introduction of ORMCS has significantly reduced reoffending rates, citing that as from January 2017 to June 2021, 12 840 offenders were released from prisons. Out of those, only 114 offenders were re-arrested for committing a crime. 

Shaalulange said this indicates that efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders are working, and should be further supported.

Caption: Artistic… The boat made by inmate Michael Tsowaseb at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.

Photo: Contributed



2023-10-06  Paheja Siririka

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