Justice Ministry regrets death of child in police cells: Nujoma

12 Feb 2014 14:00pm
WINDHOEK, 12 FEB (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Justice has expressed its regret at the recent death of a four-year-old boy in the Wanaheda Police Station holdings cells.
Fortuna Tenete died on 23 January this year as a result of an alleged brutal assault by a female inmate at the Wanaheda Police Station holding cells, where the boy was held in police custody along with his mother, Kaarina Mateus.
Justice Minister Utoni Nujoma expressed regret at the death of the child when he addressed staff members of his ministry and Magistrates' Courts on the ministry's expectations from them for this year.
“We (Ministry of Justice) regret the incident inside the Wanaheda Police Station holding cells which claimed the life of the child. It is really unfortunate that a life has been lost. It is also unfortunate that the child and his mother were put in the cell together. The child and the mother should have been separated,” Nujoma said. He did not comment on the fact that NamPol's Complaints and Internal Investigations Unit has now launched an investigation of negligence into the matter.
The leadership of the Church Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) has strongly condemned the manner in which the Wanaheda police officers handled the case of the deceased boy’s mother prior to the tragic incident.
“The death of a child is one loss too many. It sadly reflects on how the rights of vulnerable children who are unable to speak for themselves, are negated. It is a direct contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Namibia is a signatory,” CAFO Executive Director Dr Henry Platt said in a media statement availed to Nampa recently.
Platt condemned the conditions under which the death of the boy took place, saying the police holding cells are no place for innocent young children.
Mateus was held at the Wanaheda Police Station holding cells along with her deceased son after she had failed to pay N.dollars 500 bail for allegedly shoplifting in Windhoek.
She has since indicated that she intends to sue the Namibian Government and the Ministry of Safety and Security for the police’s alleged negligence.
Mateus has already approached the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) for assistance in connection with her planned lawsuit.
Several peace-loving Namibians and good Samaritans have also responded to Mateus's tragedy, and Melvin Louw from 24/7 Recovery handed over a casket to Mateus and her sister Martha Uushona.
Tenete allegedly died after another female inmate - now murder suspect - Loise Kaambu smashed his head against the cell floor as revenge for a fight she had had with Mateus earlier in the day.
Kaambu appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on a charge of murder on 27 January this year, and her case was remanded until 05 March this year, pending further police investigations into the matter and for her to obtain a response from the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid on her application for a State-sponsored defence lawyer.
Kaambu, 32, remains in police custody with no option to option bail.
Tenete has already been laid to rest at the northern town of Ondangwa in the Oshana Region.