By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK OFFICIALLY the Windhoek Central Prison has no special lunch arrangements for its 1 200 inmates for this Christmas. “However, the offenders will be allowed to have contact visits on the day as a gesture of goodwill from the prison authorities,” said Chief Officer Joseph Philander during a New Era interview last week. According to the chief officer, who has been in the prison service for more than 23 years and been in charge of the country’s biggest prison for the past 15 months, though the authorities respect the cultural values and customs of prisoners, Christmas is considered a normal day. “The daily Sunday menu of porridge, vegetables, roasted chicken, stew and soup will be served for breakfast, lunch and supper at the Windhoek Central Prison, prepared by the prisoners themselves in the common jail’s kitchen. The inmates will be allowed to have their families to join them at a table as part of a special open-day policy. They have been granted permission to enjoy a special meal of turkey and, or whatever they are used to on the outside or prefer,” Philander said. In the spirit of the joyful season the inmates will be allowed to set up their own Christmas decorations in the courtyards of the different sections at the jail. “They are also responsible for their own leisure activities and Christmas religious practices for the day within the rules and limits of the section courtyards. In other words, the inmates will not be confined to their cells, but can move around freely under supervision for the day,” Philander, who intimated that some sections have special male and female choirs that will perform on Christmas as part of church services, said. The Windhoek Central Prison accommodates about 65 female inmates from different cultural backgrounds. “We do not have a set or prescribed Christmas programme for the inmates and they can basically do their own thing for the day. We are aware of the fact that some inmates have launched a commercial radio appeal to the capital’s business fraternity for sponsorship to arrange a braai on Christmas. “Apparently the appeal for donations was received very sympathetically. We will thus also be willing to accommodate such a occasion,” Philander asserted. Among the churches actively involved in the spiritual and religious rehabilitation of inmates are the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church. “These denominations will be allowed to stage religious worship services to the inmates under supervision for the whole day on Christmas,” Philander, who indicated that on New Year’s Day no contact visits will be allowed at his prison, said.
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