Namibia: No Need to Decongest Prisons – NCS

The Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) says there is no overcrowding or need for decongestion of offenders due to Covid-19 in the country’s 14 correctional facilities. NCS head of central staff, Commissioner Sam Shaalulange yesterday told New Era there are currently 4 265 inmates in correctional facilities around the country.

Namibia’s 14 correctional facilities have a capacity of 5 265 inmates. “There is thus no overcrowding or need for decongestion. Inmates will only be released when they have completed their sentences, on parole or presidential pardon,” he noted.

Shaalulange said 324 correctional officers and 911 inmates have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. On Covid-19 deaths, he said the NCS recorded two officers and three inmates who died since the pandemic came to Namibia last year. On vaccination, by 8 June 2021, 140 officers and 463 inmates were vaccinated. This is after the NCS launched its Covid-19 vaccination campaign at Windhoek Correctional Facility on 10 May 2021.

“However, the vaccination campaign within the NCS continues and more officers and offenders will be vaccinated soon. There has been a fear around the vaccines caused by the many conspiracy theories making rounds on social media. However, as the virus persists, it is important to listen to the experts and do the best for you and your family,” Shaalulange advised.

Shaalulange reiterated NCS directives on safety measures and health procedures towards the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus. A guidance document on preparedness and infection prevention control on Covid-19 was developed with measures that are put in place.

These include the screening of the officers and visitors coming into the correctional facility; installing washing hand water points at all entrances; manufacturing of masks within the department; and providing masks to officers and inmates. Others are strict enforcing of the correct wearing of facemasks for officers, inmates and visitors; providing hand sanitisers to officers, offices, and units and regular disinfection of cars, trucks, and buses that transport officers and offenders.

He also stressed regular disinfection of the main entrance, environment and surroundings to prevent infections, including doorknobs, handcuffs, keys, weapons, and computer keyboards and walking paths. Shaalulange said all the suspected Covid-19 people are quarantined within correctional facilities.

All the new admitted inmates are quarantined for observation within 14 days, and all the positive inmates on Covid-19 are isolated, and treated within correctional facilities. Meanwhile, all officers with respiratory symptoms are screened, treated, and send home for recovery.

Enforcing social distancing among inmates and officers is another important element, he said. NCS has a Covid-19 testing centre accessible at its biggest Windhoek correctional facility. Health education and awareness sessions to offenders and officers about Covid-19 are given regularly, as well as information materials on Covid-19 were posted and distributed around the correctional facilities.

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