Talk among police officers in Omusati has it that the four trial-awaiting suspects, who escaped from police custody on Monday, were assisted by a so-called ‘struggle kid’, who was recently recruited as a police officer.
According to sources within the ranks of the police, the suspected police accomplice was paid N$300 to assist in the jailbreak. It is alleged the police officer first smuggled a cellphone into the police holding cells, which was then used to make vital calls that enabled the jailbreak to succeed.
Asked about this, a senior police officer said although he had also heard such rumours doing the rounds the police have yet to substantiate the claim.
It was alleged the police officer in question also smuggled into the holding cells three small saws hidden inside a bottle of Dawn Lotion, which they had passed to an officer on duty to hand to the suspects.
It is further alleged that the saws were smuggled in over a month prior to the jailbreak to enable the inmates to prepare their escape. The four suspects reportedly cut through the cell’s roofing to escape.
Three of the suspects have since been arrested, while a fourth is still on the run.
Andreas Panduleni Thomas, 24, charged with housebreaking and robbery; 18-year-old Joseph Shikalepo charged with housebreaking; and 23-year-old Pandeinge Angula Oscar charged with assault have all been arrested.
Shadipeni Immanuel Nghilifa, 21, charged with housebreaking and theft of a motor vehicle, is still on the run.
However, Regional Police Commander Commissioner Shinedima Shindinge dismissed as premature allegations that a police officer assisted the suspects to escape, saying the allegations have not yet been confirmed.
“It’s really difficult to say, because these are just allegations. I also heard them flying around, but there is no formal statement made as yet. The allegations are out of the question, there is nothing like that,” Shindinge insisted.
According to him, the police can only confirm that indeed there was an escape and that three of the suspects have since been re-arrested.
The commissioner said he was not sure whether a case had been opened against the officer in question, although a case of negligence is due to be opened – likely against the officers on duty at the time.
In a related development, the head of the Namibian police administration, Major-General Desderius Shilunga, told New Era this week that police holding cells are constructed in such way that suspects have no prospect of escaping.
He said in most cases when trial-awaiting inmates escape from police custody they are directly assisted by police officers, or manage to escape as a result of negligence on the part of the police.