Labour Ministry hits back at Prisons boss on tattoos

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation has pronounced itself on the recent remarks by the General Commissioner of the Namibia Correctional Services, who said that persons with visible tattoos may not be employed in the Service.

Reacting to this, Labour Spokesperson Maria Hedimbi said that generally, in terms of labour and employment, such policies should be applied with due diligence, to avoid an element of discrimination in employment decisions.

NCS Commissioner-General Raphael Hamunyela also said that officers with visible tattoos bear a risk to the prison community.

“The Labour Act prohibits discrimination in any employment on grounds of race, colour, ethnic origin, sex, marital status or family responsibilities, religion, creed and or political opinions among others,” Hedimbi said.

Hamunyela reiterated that a number of existing correctional officers bear tattoos associated with gangs.

“We have put rules in the correctional service community that having visible tattoos is against the law in the correctional service. We will charge officers for getting tattoos because it is not allowed. Tattoos are causing a risk in our prison community and they are quite dangerous,” said Hamunyela.

Hamunyela said officers are a direct representation of the prison and if they have visible tattoos, it reflects negatively on the institution.

“Whether the person is in uniform or not, when people see you and they know you are a Correctional officer and they see tattoos on your body is what we are avoiding. The public will not view the prison in the right manner(sic),” he added.

Hamunyela who added that the rule was created to keep track of everyone currently serving in the service and potential officers.

“The directive was made to record all those who are already in the service and future ones. We will not be taking any more people with visible tattoos. The old ones that are in the service will remain. We will just see how we will handle the situation and also to avoid the problem from continuing(sic) ,” added Hamunyela.

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