…as prisons deny food shortage
Namibia’s Correctional Service authorities have blatantly denied that there is no shortage of food at the country’s biggest prison, although it admitted that the facility’s bakery is out of order.
Some relatives of inmates have been complaining over alleged food shortages at the Windhoek Correctional Facility and the fact that families are prohibited from taking food from outside to inmates.
Responding to questions sent by this newspaper on the situation at the prison facility, the officer in charge of the correctional facility, Commissioner Victor Eichab denied any shortage of food.
He did however indicate that there was a shortage in bread supply because the “bakery” broke down.
He determinedly wanted to know the name of the source that informed the paper as “such information according to him cannot just go out of nowhere and that he wants to know who it came from.”
“There was and is no shortage of food at this facility, all inmates in my custody are receiving their portions of food accordingly. Yes the confirmation I have to provide to you is that the bakery in our kitchen broke down on Friday afternoon during the baking of the last bread for the next day which was Saturday, 18 November. Thus the inmates received their bread on Saturday. Due to the breakdown of the bakery we could not bake bread for Sunday and the days thereafter. As a matter of fact the inmates did not receive bread from Sunday to Tuesday 21 November 2017. During this, procurement of bread from outside suppliers was processed. As from Wednesday, 22 November we received bread from outside suppliers and this arrangement will continue until our bakery is fixed. In the absence of bread, the inmates were given more vegetables to fill the gap of bread.” Eichab said.
The source also mentioned that food is not allowed from relatives and that this is especially difficult when they have medical reasons for receiving food from outside the correctional facility.
This is what Eichab had to say: “Providing food to inmates is one of our core mandates through the provision of humane treatment to inmates; therefore sentenced offenders may only receive food upon authorisation of the officer in charge according to the provisions of our legal instruments. All inmates are receiving three meals per day.”
Another source who has a relative at the facility expressed concern over the alleged food shortage.
“We trust the correctional authorities to take care of our people but if they are not able to provide food, we should at least be given the permission to bring in food to them ourselves. I understand that there is a procedure to be followed but this can also be a long process, in the meantime our people have to starve,” said the source.
It was further revealed that the offenders prepare the food themselves under supervision of the officers. In this way the offenders are given the responsibility to prepare food as an act of empowerment.
Namibian Correctional Service was established within the Correctional Service act 9 of 2012.The facility falls under ministry of safety and security and ensures that the law and order is maintained in order to provide a safe environment for both sentenced offenders and trial awaiting persons. The functions of the correctional facility are stated as follows in part 1 of act 9 of 2012; “to ensure that every inmate is secured in safe and humane custody, within a correctional facility, until lawfully discharged or removed therefrom.”
The correctional facility is further mandated to assist offenders with the process of rehabilitation and also to prepare them for integration back into the social community.