Correctional services handicapped

16 Dec 2018 11:20am
WINDHOEK, 16 DEC (NAMPA) – By Africa’s standards - the Namibian Correctional Service is the closest thing to a hotel in terms of prison services one can find - but the service remains significantly challenged in delivering its mandate.
These were the words of NCS chief, Commissioner General Raphael Hamunyela when he met President Hage Geingob at State House on Friday.
“By African standards, our prisons are hotels,” he said in a light tone, adding that even foreign offenders do not want to be extradited to their countries “because they eat three meals here”.
During the engagement with the First Citizen, Hamunyela listed the impediments hampering operations of the service, including shortage of security implements such as electronic search tools and entrance control systems.
Currently, the integrated security system is only found at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
“The shortage of security vans is a challenge, as a large number of offenders have to be escorted to courts and public hospitals as well as other correctional facilities on a daily basis,” said Hamunyela.
In addition, the complicity of correctional officers who smuggle contraband into correctional services is a reality that the NCS finds difficult to control, Hamunyela said.
“The department addresses this by having zero tolerance to such officers, meaning they are dismissed. However, there is a need for security implements such as electronic searching tools and entry control equipment to curb the scourge,” he further stated.
Another concern is the old and worn-out security implements that pose a threat to security in correctional facilities.
Additionally, the dilapidation of correctional facilities is also a challenge, as it poses a direct threat to both the physical and dynamic security as offenders easily escape.
The NCS is also challenged in as far as the provision of healthcare services to offenders is concerned.
Hamunyela complained to Geingob that medical practitioners in their employment are underpaid, compared to their counterparts in the public health service.
He wanted to know why this is so, as it deters medical doctors and other health professionals from joining the NCS.
“The turnover in healthcare personnel is an issue. This indicates a need for professional allowances that can contribute to retaining specialised staff in a working environment of correctional facilities where they are exposed to danger,” Hamunyela’s report read.
The service is also understaffed by 70 per cent, as only 2 594 are filled out of the 8 643 positions available on its employment structure.