Maize meal produced by inmates incarcerated at the Divundu Correctional Facility is being supplied to police stations in Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Kavango East and Kavango West to feed hundreds of trial-awaiting inmates, saving the government a substantial amount of money.
Surplus maize meal produced by inmates at the Divundu rehabilitation centre has also been trucked to the Directorate of Disaster Risk Management in the Office of the Prime Minister, from where it was distributed to feed thousands of Namibians affected by a series of consecutive droughts.
This came to light on Sunday when Deputy Commissioner Metusalem Hamukwaya briefed Vice-President Dr Nickey Iyambo, who on Tuesday winded up his six-day visit to the two Kavango regions.
Though the rehabilitation centre was not spared the recent outbreak of army worms, it supplied hundreds of 50kg bags of maize meal to police stations in Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Kavango East and Kavango West.
Last year the medium-security prison at Divundu supplied 600 tons, comprising 12 000 bags, of maize meal for distribution to drought victims while the quantity of wheat grain it supplied to the Ministry of Poverty Eradication was 5 000 bags each weighing 50kg, said Hamukwaya.
Iyambo and his delegation that included the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Tommy Nambahu, and Kavango East Governor Dr Samuel Mbambo were very impressed that the inmates produced food for their own needs and those of others.
The Permanent Secretary (PS) for Veterans Affairs, Ambassador Hopelong Ipinge, and the PS of agriculture Percy Misika and adviser to President Hage Geingob, Mukwaita Shanyengana, accompanied Iyambo.
On the negative side it was noted that theft “perpetrated by some community members have been impacting negatively on the crop yield,” said Hamukwaya, who also revealed that marauding elephants caused damage to the fence at the prison farm where they are a constant menace.
The 205 inmates at Divundu also make their own bread from the wheat they grow and their rations include the vegetables they produce, albeit on a small scale.
Deputy Commissioner-General Tuhafeni Hangula, who on Sunday was at the rehabilitation centre for the vice-president’s visit, said: “One thing for sure within the Namibian Correctional Service is that we have the capacity and capability to contribute greatly to food security in the country.”
“If given the necessary support, in terms of finance, we can really do wonders. We have the labour in terms of the offenders. We will also assist these offenders to be absorbed in the labour market upon their release and to be able to sustain themselves while contributing to the economy of this country,” said the deputy commissioner-general.
“We capitalised on the good rainfall and our timing in that regard was spot-on. We definitely expect a bumper harvest particularly in our rain-fed area and I also want to use the opportunity to thank the offenders, because these are people doing work on the ground. I also want to urge these offenders to use the knowledge that we imparted to them so that when they are released they would become productive citizens. Likewise I would like to urge society out there to support these offenders when they are released,” he told New Era.