Three trial-awaiting inmates facing charges of murder and theft escaped from the Windhoek Correctional Facility (formerly Windhoek Prison) about a week ago with the assistance of three Namibian Police officers.
Meanwhile, the Namibian Police Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga did not mince words on the incident, stating that he wants to fire the three police officers to deter and set an example to would-be criminals hiding in the force.
Two of the three officers have been arrested while one is still at large. One was found around Windhoek town (CBD) while the second one was apprehended in Katima Mulilo.
The escape happened on November 26, the same day prison officers detained a 27-year-old woman with seven cellphones and their chargers hidden in a suitcase, which she failed to smuggle into the facility.
Prison spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Eveline January confirmed the escape.
“The three people who were later identified as police officers arrived at the Windhoek Correctional Facility at around 11h00. They requested to be handed three trial-awaiting inmates to be charged for new cases at Rundu where they were apparently based,” January indicated.
January explained that trial-awaiting inmates are normally under police custody even if detained in the prison. Hence, as per the usual practice, the officers were handed the inmates and they left the facility.
“It was however later discovered that these police officers had no case under investigation against the suspects and that they were not from Rundu as they claimed,” January stated.
January said the inmates include Pieter Itana who was being detained for theft and Marius Thomas, 28, who in June this year was found guilty in the High Court of six crimes, including murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery.
Thomas was charged with counts of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances, alternatively unlawful use of property, in connection with events around the death of a work colleague, Likius Ngesheya, 44, at farm Kaalvlakte in the Bethanie district during the night of February 25 to 26, 2008.
Thomas was also accused of having raped a woman at a farm close to Keetmanshoop, and robbing, kidnapping and indecently assaulting the same woman, on August 3, 2009.
The third inmate, Mervin Raymond Hanse, is also facing charges of murder.
Windhoek Correctional Facility Deputy Commissioner General Tuhafeni Hangula said that when the officers appeared at the facility two were dressed in police uniform while one was dressed in civilian clothing.
Hangula added that history has taught them that during the festive season they find a lot of attempts to escape from the facility.
“But to be honest, what we can confirm is that there was gross negligence from authorities of the facility. It could have been prevented by all means and costs,” Hangula said.
He said that inmates escape at this time of the year to further their criminal activities knowing that a lot of people are on holiday and it may be a great opportunity to commit crimes.
He said another reason is just for them to join parties outside that are happening during Christmas.
Hangula stated the communication from the police officers to move the inmates to Rundu started on November 15 and that a statement was even faxed from Rundu bearing a police date stamp.
“They were calling prison authorities, the calling had been going on for sometime until some authorities became suspicious,” he added.
Ndeitunga said the incident was very disturbing. “I want to fire them without delay. It is good that they were arrested. We will now deal with them so that we fire them straight forward,” Ndeitunga lamented.
The police chief said it was also disturbing that the officers were not from the investigation unit.