Hardap prisoners, officers in jailhouse battle

Details have emerged how the Namibian Police Force on Tuesday had to be called in to assist the Namibian Correctional Services (NCS) quell a prison fight that had broken out between inmates and prison officials at the Hardap correctional facility.

According to insiders, it took more than six hours for the police and correctional officers to bring back order to the prison facility that houses over 250 inmates.

The commotion is alleged to have been caused by demands by the correctional officers to carry out a routine search while prisoners were in the yard, where they converge when released from their cells daily, with some inmates having objected to the action citing COVID-19.

The disagreement between the officers and the inmates escalated into a fight, which saw five correctional officers and two inmates injured, including the officer in charge of the facility, Deputy Commissioner Sam Franz.

Struggling to bring back order due to limited numbers, prison officers are said to have turned to the police to assist. This resulted in force being used to restrain inmates to end the skirmish.

When contacted for comment, NCS head, Commissioner General Raphael Tuhafeni Hamunyela confirmed the development but was mum on the details, saying he was still awaiting an official report about events at the correctional facility.

Commissioner Sam Franz was also not forth coming with details referring the newspaper to NCS communications department.

NCS Spokesperson, Commissioner Sam Shaalulange when contacted for comment said although skirmishes had occurred, order had now been restored. Those involved have received medical attention.

“Five correctional officers and two inmates were injured during the situation and they have all received medical attention,” he said.

Quizzed on what action will be taken, Shaalulange said an investigation team had been dispatched to investigate all aspects of the circumstances and the event itself.

“We have dispatched a team to investigate and only through the investigation can we determine what action will be taken. The report will allow accountability as recommendations will be made if it’s the offenders or the officers, “he said.

This development at the correctional facility comes as the NCS has struggled to contain the spread of COVID-19 across its 14 prisons in the country. According to the media, Windhoek, Hardap, Oluno and Walvis Bay have reported the highest number of positive cases since the emergence of the virus.

A total of 1,985 inmates and 610 prison officials are reported to have been tested for COVID-19 across the country, with one inmate reported to have died as a result of COVID-19.

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