WINDHOEK - The head of Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) Commissioner-General Raphael Tuafeni Hamunyela says the law only allows incarcerated mothers to be with their babies in prison until the age of two and from there the baby is either handed over to mother’s family or social workers to raise the child while the mother finishes her sentence.
Hamunyela said they cannot take infants away from their mothers before they turn two years because they need to bond with their mothers love and are still in need of their mother’s love. He said no one can give babies that. The Commissioner-General was responding to queries about five women who are accommodated at the facilities with their babies. He said there are about 121 women with five children between them at different facilities countrywide.
“From two years or when the child is one year and few months, the social workers will start working with the maternal family to decide who will have temporary custody of the child and if no nobody (is available), then we will deal with the social worker from the ministry of health who have the responsibility to deal with such cases,” explained Hamunyela
Hamunyela was also quick to point out the five women with babies were temporarily accommodated at Windhoek Correctional Facility after being transferred to Windhoek to see a gynaecologist who is not available at the state hospitals at the coast. He stated that in Walvis Bay every women with a baby stays with the child alone in a cell. “However, there is a programme that even if she is with her child, she cannot stay alone the whole duration of the sentence because if she stays alone with her child it will traumatise her,” he said.
Following the death of a year-old boy Fortuna Tenete who was bashed against the floor at the Wanaheda police cells in Windhoek during 2014 by an inmate who had a fight with his mother, women with babies sleep alone in their cells, says Hamunyela.
Tenete’s incident led to huge public outcry with Ombudsman John Walters recently releasing a report stating that mother and the child should be detained in a separate room at a police station or segregated in a cell.
Furthermore, Hamunyela said they do not have a women facility in Windhoek at the moment. He stated the facility is expected to open by the end of April or May after renovations and alterations are done.
2019-03-08 10:00:19 5 months ago