By: Justicia Shipena
Commissioner-General of the Namibian Correctional Service (NSC) Raphael Hamunyela says that a senior correctional officer was suspended due to operational orders, and another was forced to resign.
Hamunyela’s comments came after the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) member of parliament Thimotheus Shihumbu accused him of smuggling a cellphone to Fishrot-accused James Hatuikulipi in prison.
According to him, the senior correctional officer was suspended due to allegations of bringing a mobile phone to one of the accused.
Hamunyela said another officer was suspended for escorting an accused person to the industrial workshop. Yet, another was forced to resign after she was caught communicating telephonically with an accused.
“Evidence suggested that she was engaging in a telephonic affair with one of the accused,” he revealed.
Hamunyela said when irregularities or minor transgressions occur, the operational order for the management of the person accused in the fishrot scandal is observed.
This order was issued on 3 January 2020 when NCS received this group of accused persons from the Namibian Police Force.
The order restricts movement and aims to minimise the access of officers to the accused, movement of the
accused from the unit where they are accommodated, and inspection of goods meant for the accused.
Furthermore, with over 27 years of experience in the field, Hamunyela said that he is dismayed by the allegations reported in the media on several occasions on how he is allowing the correctional facilities to be run like pigsties.
“This surprises me because a delegation from PDM recently visited the Windhoek Correctional Facility. I would expect that if it were the case that your delegation entered the facility without any security checks and whether the environment at the facility could be compared to that of a pigsty, you would have brought this to my attention,” he stressed.
He is further shocked as he is unaware of a media report suggesting that he is allowing Namibian correctional facilities to run like they are alleging.
“The letter is alleging that I have not taken any precautionary measures to ensure that the fishrot accused persons do not have access to unauthorised devices for their use to evade justice.”
Thus he said that there is no one more aware of the high profile case of the accused in question, other than the correctional officers on the ground.
“We are being reminded of this case in the daily news. “
Hamunyela stressed that the party should take that the Fishrot accused are not the only concern for the NCS.
“Mobile phones and even other unauthorised articles such as drugs and escape-aiding equipment, are equally a threat to the safety and security of correctional facilities and the public at large even if it involves other inmates.”
In a letter on Tuesday, he said NCS produced a video urging the public to refrain from smuggling unauthorised articles into correctional facilities.
“The video was released on all social media platforms on 20 April 2021.”
He said he also issued orders, administrative directives, and policies to deal with matters of breach of operational procedures, and policies and disciplinary procedures are instituted to stem ill-discipline.
“Correctional officers undergo basic training for six months, where the subjects of manipulation, unauthorised articles, disciplinary measures and all related
matters and policies form part of the training,” he explained.
In his letter, the member of parliament had raised his concerns about NCS are in total disarray.
He also insisted that nobody enter the correctional facilities without high-level security checks.
Shihumbu also voiced that Hatuikulipi has been found with smart mobile devices on two occasions.
Thus, he claims that someone within the institution collaborates with the accused persons.
In this vein, Shihumbu urged the need to review the measures currently used to detect mobile phones.