Prison smuggling rings busted
A well-choreographed syndicate orchestrated by inmates, correctional officers and visitors at all prisons across the country has seen prisoners gaining access to 144 illegal possessions including cell phones, drugs and sharp objects.
Investigations by The Villager also confirm that so well calculated has been the prison smuggling syndicate that transporters (mules) hide the illegal objects in their rectums (Anus) and mouth and eventually pull them out when they are inside for a fee or payment in kind.
The Namibia Correctional Services (NCS) Deputy Commissioner, Eveline January, this week revealed to The Villager that money, drugs such as dagga, mandrax and cocaine, alcohol and tobacco and sharp objects such as knives, saw blades, screw drivers, ropes and fire arms are just some of the most common objects smuggled into correctional facilities.
“The people who come visit the prisoners, and in most cases staff from the correctional facilities also, help smuggle this forbidden objects into our prisons but prisoners themselves are the ones who illegally smuggle objects into the cells when they get the opportunity to go out in the public,” January said.
However, in most cases, the NCS use their four standard procedures for searching to detect and confiscate this objects. The searching procedures are done through body searches, stripping, and the use of a metal detector and through X-rays. Correctional facilities usually holds industrial workshops where prisoners are used as labour to render products and services to the public and government Offices, Ministries and Agencies (OMAs), which also serves as a perfect opportunity for prisoners to obtain objects, with the intention to smuggle them into their holding cells.
The number of confiscated cell phones during 2015 were 146, while in the first five months of 2016 about 78 items were confiscated.
“For 2015 we have confiscated money worth of N$1 055 from prisoners, while we have confiscated sharp objects of about 143 in 2015, and around 66 in 2016. The amount of dagga confiscated in 2015 was 104 grams. Prisoners use money as a form of collective bargaining. Some of these prisoners are breadwinners and they try to take care of their families from within the prison cells,” January said.
To help in curbing the smuggling of illegal items into correctional facilities, the NCS is soon to hold a workshop on contraband goods with staff members and prisoners, January told The Villager. The NCS has structured core programmes, which are facilitated by appropriately trained, supervised and competent programme officers with a psychology or social work background.
According to the NCS the selection of offenders into structured core programmes proceeds through a stringent assessment process that begins with a pre-programme assessment phase, which involves the determination of the offender’s pattern of offending and the motivational, cognitive, emotional and behavioural factors that might interfere with successful programming.
Earlier The Villager revealed that these incarcerated Namibians have raked in N$1.6 million from the Namibia Correctional Services (NCS) industrial workshops through products and services provided to the public and government Offices, Ministries and Agencies (OMAs). The money obtained through this means is sent to government treasury.
Annually, prisoners gulp large amounts of government revenue, the Ministry of Safety and Security’s budget motivation for this year shows. The training and development within the Ministry received a budget allocation of N$109 465 000, while coordination and support services within the Ministry received N$329 954 000. The safe custody and rehabilitation of prisoners received a budget allocation of N$640 123 000, while the reintegration of offenders received a budget allocation of N$11 292 000.
Meanwhile, budget books show that non-tax revenue sourced from prisoners labour for the 2015/16 financial year is N$242 000. In order to maintain safety, the Ministry has said there is a need for appropriate security equipment such as communication devices transport, standby power generators, fire arms, handcuffs and scanners, which is mostly critical in the aspect of maintaining order in sensitive environment such as the correctional facilities.
The Ministry further noted that insufficient security equipment makes room for vulnerability towards smuggling of illegal goods into correctional facilities and open to riots, attacks by prisoners and the public, escapes, smuggling of dangerous articles into mistrial facilities amongst many other vulnerabilities.
According to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the African Charter on Human Rights, prisoners are supposed to be provided with adequate food, water and electricity, clothing, open space and ventilation. However, the lack of funds does not allow the provision of this services, which in most cases results in legal action taken by the prisoners, the Ministry stated in budget books.