Inmate accuses wardens of maltreatment

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Maria Amakali
Windhoek

The court application by an inmate at Hardap correctional facility to be transferred to another penitentiary has taken a drastic turn with accusations of maltreatment and intimidation levelled against wardens at the Hardap facility.

Paulus Mutilifa Vrymen approached the High Court on an urgent basis, stating that his stay in prison had been characterised by threats to his life and maltreatment. He has dragged to court the Minister of Safety and Security, the Prosecutor-General and the Commissioner-General of Correctional Services.

However, the Minister of Safety and Security and the Prosecutor-General have all denied the allegations stating that Vrymen is a trial awaiting prisoner who escaped from prison on two separate occasions and has been re-arrested on both occasions. The three institutions maintained that they are not aware of the violation of Vrymen’s rights or any serious accusations said to be occurring at the Hardap correctional facility as alleged by Vrymen.

In fact, Deputy Commissioner Ben Siambango Buchane, the man in charge of the Hardap correctional facility, told the court that: “There is reasonable fear and security concerns that he might attempt to escape and it is the reason why he is being kept at Hardap correctional facility and not the Windhoek one”.

In the affidavit filed against the Minister of Safety and Security, the Prosecutor General and Commissioner-General of Correctional Services, Vrymen said he wants to be transferred to a Windhoek correctional facility because he has received threats to his life from correctional officers at Hardap Correctional Centre in Mariental where he is currently being incarcerated.

“The officers told me that they will torture me and as a result my parents will be attending my funeral,” narrated Vrymen.

He further stated that the correctional officers at Hardap Correctional Centre have denied him the right to have visitors and they have refused to transport him to Windhoek for medical purposes.

Vrymen was diagnosed with asthma, a respiratory condition which causes sensitivity to the airways in the lungs, causing difficulties in breathing.

He maintains that the poor diet at the Hardap Correctional Centre has compromised his immune system. “Every time that I need to see my private doctor they either tell me that there is no car or petrol,” said Vrymen.

“The Namibian Constitution guarantees all people fair humane treatment and not abuse,” stated Vrymen who also said the officers bragged there would be no repercussion for their actions.

Nevertheless, Deputy Commissioner Buchane stated that Vrymen had been involved in fraudulent activities while serving his time and as a result had already served one sentence on a charge of fraud and yet he still had cases pending against him.

“It is a cost exercise to have the inmate transferred to Windhoek as he still needs to be attending court proceedings in Hardap region. Furthermore, doctors have not given any recommendations that he needed to be examined by a specialist or be transferred to the Windhoek facility,” noted Buchane.

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