Community service launched to aid justice reform program

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Commissioner-General Raphael Tuhafeni Hamunyela recently oversaw the launch of the Community Service Orders (CSO) program at the Karasburg Magistrates’ Court and Ariamsvlei Periodical Court.

This initiative marks a significant step in justice reform.

A review of data from the 2020/2021 to 2022/2023 financial years revealed that 62 offenders breached their release conditions over the past three years.

Of these, 33 individuals (53 percent) committed new offences, leading to 31 rearrests, while tewo remain at large.

The remaining 29 individuals (47%) violated their conditions due to repeated absenteeism, resulting in 20 rearrests and 9 still at large.

Hamunyela emphasized the CSO program’s potential for positive community impact. The expansion of this program to the //Karas region is part of a national strategy for broader implementation.

Since its full implementation in 2010, the program has involved 3,129 offenders in community service, covering 72 percent of targeted courts.

The CSO program aims to reduce inmate populations, offering substantial savings in state resources. These resources can then be reallocated to address other critical needs while also reducing overcrowding in correctional facilities.

The success of the program is attributed to the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders within the Criminal Justice System, including magistrates, prosecutors, and the Namibian Police Force.

The revival of the National Steering Committee for CSO, which includes representatives from multiple justice and law enforcement agencies, plays a crucial role in supporting and guiding the program’s implementation and progression.

The launch in the //Karas region was made possible through joint efforts, notably from the Ministry of Justice and the Office of Judiciary, providing essential resources like office space and furniture.

In line with the program’s implementation, two Community Service Orders Officers have been appointed for the region.

Their responsibilities include liaising with stakeholders and offenders to improve the understanding and operation of the CSO.

Hamunyela also expressed gratitude for the Cabinet’s decision to promote the use of CSO and to develop legislation that enables magistrates to sentence certain petty offences to community service.

The National Steering Committee’s revival is crucial for ongoing support and efficient implementation of the CSO program.

In conclusion, Hamunyela reiterated the NCS’s dedication to continuously assess the program’s effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.

He called for support from local organizations, businesses, and community members in aiding individuals on their path to redemption, highlighting the importance of collective efforts in national betterment.

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