Katrina Andreas

The Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) says it has no plans to decongest its prisons after 12 inmates from the Windhoek Central Prison tested positive for COVID-19.

The Windhoek Observer can reveal that 122 inmates and 14 prison officers were tested for Covid-19 a week ago and the results confirmed 13 positive cases, of which 12 are inmates.

NCS Commissioner General Raphael Hamunyela stated that there will be no further release of non-serious offenders for the purpose of decongestion to allow social distancing within the correctional facilities. This is because there are no more petty offenders after President Hage Geingob pardoned 1,023 of this level of offenders in May 2020.

According to Hamunyela, tracing information indicates that a prison officer who is in charge of the units within the Windhoek prison facility, is suspected to have been the source of the virus transmission to the inmates.

“So far we have placed the positive cases in isolation facilities within the premises of the correction service. We have placed 120 inmates who came into contact with the positive cases into quarantine,” said Commissioner Hamunyela.

This comes as health minister Kalumbi Shangula on Tuesday 18 August announced 72 new positive COVID-19 cases from the Khomas region, of which 13 the cases are from the Namibian Correctional Services.

“It is imperative that people in secluded places like prisons observe more precautionary measures, as the risk of transmitting the virus to other people is very high,” Shangula said.

Developments at the Windhoek Prison facility comes as the NCS faced a similar crisis at its Walvis Bay facility in July when inmates and prison officers tested positive for COVID-19.