Relatives raise concerns over the safety of Fishrot accused in prison

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Relatives of some of the Fishrot accused have voiced their concerns regarding the safety of their relatives currently held at the central correctional facility in Windhoek.

On Monday a group demonstrated in front of the Windhoek Correctional Facility to express concerns over the planned relocation of some of the accused persons from holding cells in the C Section of the prison to the Echo Section.

Naphtali Hatuikulipi, a cousin of both James and Tamson Hatuikulipi questioned the motives behind the decision to move the high-profile prisoners and pleaded that their safety be ensured.

“Why would you want to move this high-profile prisoner? We are concerned about the safety of these people. If you must sentence them to 30-plus years, then so be it. We are not saying they should not stand trial, but what is wrong with where they are now? And why is it suddenly that when we have a new president they are being moved?” he said.

Naphtali said if necessary, the accused should stand trial but should not be subjected to potential harm in prison.

Those scheduled for relocation are Tamson Hatuikulipi, James Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, Mike Nghipunya, Pius Mwatelulo, and Otniel Shuudifonya.

Another family member, Theopoline Hatuikulipi, highlighted their connections to the ruling party, Swapo, and alleged that the accused had previously supported Swapo’s election campaigns.

She now feels abandoned by the party and the government, expressing fears for the safety of their relatives.

“Now that President Hage Geingob is dead, they want to move them to a different section of the prison. Where is the protection? We are hearing all these killing talks, and we don’t know why they want to kill them. The Swapo Party is the ruling party and the government because of those men. Everyone knows their campaigns were funded by the Fishrot accused. Swapo was using them when they needed the votes. Now that they no longer need them, they do not care about their safety and well-being,” she said.

Last week deputy Commissioner Veikko Armas, warden of the Windhoek correctional facility, refuted claims of threats to the lives of the Fishrot accused.

He dismissed these claims, stressing that the safety of all inmates, including the Fishrot accused, is a top priority.

“There is no threat to their lives. The security of everybody is our primary concern” he stated.

Ombudsman Basilius Dyakugha last week ordered the Namibia Correctional Services (NCS) to put plans to transfer some of the Fishrot accused to Echo Section on hold.

He requested the stay while his office conducts investigations into allegations of unfair treatment of the accused persons by senior officials of the NCS.

Dyakugha said the investigations will also look into whether decisions of the NCS are unreasonable, unlawful or irregular.

He is also of the opinion that mixing the accused with the general trial awaiting detainees will expose them to danger to their personal security and the confidentiality of their case will be compromised.

“It is public knowledge that many community members regard them as the primary cause of death and the miseries of the job losses of families of employees of the fishing industry,” Dyakugha said.

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