28 February 2013

Namibia: Inmate Complains About Holding Cells

A TRIAL-AWAITING prisoner at the Windhoek police holding cells is complaining about alleged inhumane conditions.

He charges that as many as 35 inmates are kept in one cell, while some sleep on the bare floors as not enough blankets are provided.

The inmate told The Namibian that they are not allowed to request blankets from relatives and friends.

He said the food consists of brown bread and coffee for breakfast and porridge and "slimy" soup in the afternoon, which "is not even fit for dog consumption".

"The place where the food is served is also very dirty," he continued.

He also complained about unhygienic toilets at the cells.

"When we bring these complaints to the attention of the police officers they say we are criminals. How can we be criminals if we are yet to be sentenced," he asked.

The detainee, who has been in police custody for over two years on a serious charge, claimed that police officers take their time in getting them medical treatment.

A police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, conceded that some of the complaints are true but said detainees cannot expect five-star treatment.

"The facilities are overcrowded in some instances and are overburdened," Kanguatjivi said.

He said there are avenues that trial-awaiting prisoners can take, such as the Ombudsman's Office, if they have specific complaints.

He gave the assurance that the police will investigate any case of maltreatment of inmates if enough evidence is provided.

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