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Lack of specialists hinders inmates’ rehabilitation

2021-09-01  Nuusita Ashipala

Lack of specialists hinders inmates’ rehabilitation
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Nuusita Ashipala

ONDANGWA - State President Decision (SPD) inmates at the Oluno Correctional Facility have raised concern that there is no officer specialising in mental illness to assist them to rehabilitate and be reintegrated back into society.

SPD inmates are incarcerated patients dealing with mental health issues. As a result, they claim that they often find themselves back in correctional facilities after being released.

“Since we came here, there is no specialist for mental issues,” said one of the inmates, who has been at the facility since 2016. The inmates said because of the lack of specialists in mental issues, they feel punished by being incarcerated without receiving proper assistance.

Commissioner general of the Namibian Correctional Service (NCS), Raphael Hamunyela, was touring the facility, and acknowledged that the inmates’ concerns are genuine.

There is currently no occupational therapist in any of the correctional facilities to deal with mental illnesses.

He said there was only one stationed at Gobabis, but that person is also leaving.

At present, he is thus encouraging his team to specialise in occupational therapy in order to assist those who are incarcerated.

Oluno has 90 SPD patients.

Hamunyela said there are more than 300 at Gobabis, and 50 at Grootfontein.

Altogether, Oluno has 572 inmates, of whom 17 are female. There are also 70 foreigners here.

The commissioner general observed that the NCS will now have to look for assistance from neighbouring countries for someone with expertise.

He assured the inmates that the NCS’s responsibility is to ensure that they are safe, secure, treated with humanity and successfully reintegrated back into society.

“We are not here to punish you, but to assist you to rehabilitate,” added Hamunyela.

Other concerns raised at the SPD section were that the inmates allegedly do not receive sufficient food to sustain them to the next meal.

They said they receive little food with the strong medication they must take, and thus requested for more food.

Hamunyela promised to look into this request, and on the spot ordered that the inmates be given sufficient food.

The commissioner general also said in response to allegations that the inmates no longer receive visitors and as such do not have cosmetics that visitations are allowed, but parcels are prohibited.

Inmates will only be allowed to receive money and their goods purchased at the various facilities’ canteens because parcels are used to smuggle in unwanted goods, he stressed.

During the engagement with the inmates, the commissioner general encouraged them to take their rehabilitation seriously.

“This is a place where you come to change your way of doing things. This is where we help you transform,” said Hamunyela.

- nashipala@nepc.com.na


2021-09-01  Nuusita Ashipala

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