CAFO condemns death of boy in police cells

30 Jan 2014 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 30 JAN (NAMPA) - The leadership of the Church Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) on Thursday said it is shocked at the death of a four-year-old boy in the Wanaheda Police Station holdings cells.
Fortuna Tenete died last Thursday as a result of his alleged brutal assault by a female inmate at the holding cells where the boy was held in police custody along with his mother, Kaarina Mateus.
CAFO 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 on Thursday.
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.
“In the past the deplorable conditions in our prisons have been brought to the attention of the relevant authorities. Children should get the protection they are guaranteed to have. It is clear that the Namibian Government's prison system failed to protect little Fortuna. It calls for urgent action to address the situation of other children that may be in similar situations,” Platt stated.
CAFO called on the leadership of the Namibian Government to, as a matter of urgency, investigate the incident and to ensure that similar situations where children are kept in police holding cells with their parents or relatives, are avoided at all costs in future.
Mateus was held at the Wanaheda Police Station holding cells along with her 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 on Wednesday.
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 Monday, 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.
CAFO is an affiliate of the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN).