The officer-in-command of the Windhoek Correctional Facility, deputy commissioner Veikko Armas, says the facility has recorded an alarming level of illegal goods being smuggled into the prison by correctional officers/staff, offenders and people visiting inmates.
Against this backdrop, an anti-contraband campaign was held in Windhoek this past weekend to sensitise the public and correctional officers on the dangers of such practices.
According to Armas, between January and April this year, 95 mobile phones, 101 packages of dagga in the form of balies, bullets or sachets, 33 crack cocaine sachets, eight mandrax tablets and 75 sachets of tobacco were found in the facility when searches were conducted and in consignments that were dropped off or planted at the facility or public places such as hospitals, courts or schools and intercepted.
Some of the illicit items were intercepted before they could enter the facility, especially during external patrols conducted by the officers around facility perimeters as often these drugs are planted around these areas by those who work in cahoots with inmates, Armas said.
He further said smuggling of contraband poses a substantial threat to the overall mandate of the Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) of providing safe, secure and human custody to offenders.
Illicit items such as mobile phones, drugs and weapons can be used by offenders to perpetuate violence against officers, fellow offenders and members of the public. They can also be used by offenders to engage in criminal activities such as creating underground economies and aggravate existing drug addictions by offenders, he explained.
Sometimes contraband could be hidden in food containers/items such as coffee or bread; or they could be placed in toiletries such as lotion, toothpaste, aqueous cream or even Vaseline, he said.
He further said contraband brought into the facilities pose a substantial threat to the safety of correctional staff, offenders and the public. The negative effects associated with contraband use and smuggling include increase in security threats, bullying and violence at the facility.
“I am urging the public to assist us in this fight. The security of correctional facilities is the security of the public, as part of our commitment to the mandate of the NCS of contributing to public safety.”
Armas called on the public to report any incidents should they be aware of public members or correctional officers planning to smuggle contraband with inmates.
“Please do not hesitate to contact our facility at 061 284 6512/13 or the nearest police station.
“Let us work together to make our facilities free of contraband for the effective rehabilitation of offenders,” he added.