WARDERS on duty at the Windhoek Correctional Facility on Tuesday night failed to come to the aid of an awaiting trial inmate who collapsed in his cell and later died, fellow detainees have claimed.
David Matali (48) died during the night between Tuesday and yesterday morning, a spokesperson of the Namibian Correctional Service, commissioner Sam Shaalulange, confirmed yesterday.
Shaalulange added that the circumstances of Matali's death would be investigated, and disciplinary steps would be taken if it was found that warders on duty at the Windhoek Correctional Facility during Tuesday night had been negligent by failing to assist Matali.
A fellow inmate told The Namibian yesterday that Matali collapsed in the cell he shared with other awaiting trial detainees late on Tuesday night.
Fellow inmates tried to resuscitate him, and banged on their cell door to get the attention of correctional officers, but no prison officer came to check on him or to summon medical help, the fellow detainee said.
Matali was found dead when his cell was unlocked yesterday morning, Shaalulange said.
"If there was negligence involved, we would take disciplinary action against the members concerned," he said.
Matali has been in custody for more than three years. He was arrested at the start of April 2015 in connection with the murder of a Windhoek resident, Peter Riscoh Muleke (36), who was found stoned to death near the city's Goreangab Dam on 30 March 2015.
Muleke's wife, Annastancia Lubinda (36), was also arrested in connection with his death. She, Matali, and four co-accused went on trial in the Windhoek High Court in November last year, when all of them denied guilt on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
The prosecution is alleging that Lubinda conspired with her co-accused to have her husband killed, and that their plan was carried out during the night of 29 to 30 March 2015.
The trial before acting judge Johanna Salionga became bogged down in March, though, after the judge ruled that the prosecution would be allowed to use alleged confessions made by Lubinda and two of her co-accused as evidence in the trial.
Following that ruling, defence lawyers involved in the case applied for acting judge Salionga's recusal from the trial, but she refused to step down from the matter in a ruling that she delivered in April.
In the wake of that ruling, the defence informed the court they would be asking the Supreme Court to be allowed to appeal against the judge's refusal to recuse herself.
Lubinda and her co-accused - all of whom are being kept in custody - are scheduled to appear in court again on 27 July.