Windhoek-An inmate at the Windhoek Correction Facility has urged members of the public to refrain from smuggling contraband into the prison as it diminishes the chances of parole for inmates.
Paulus Shimweefeleni, a former member of the notorious ‘Rooi Oog’ (Red Eye) gang, said every month inmates are caught with prohibited items such dagga, tobacco and cellphones smuggled by loved ones.
“These people should stop because each time people are found in possession of those goods their parole is revoked but families don’t know this,” said Shimweefeleni who is serving life imprisonment.
In 1999 Shimweefeleni was sentenced to an effective 22-year prison term for robbery with aggravating circumstances and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
There are numerous programmes and activities to rehabilitate inmates and the smuggling of contraband only reverses the efforts of the “hard-working” employees at the correctional facility.
“What they have to do is to come here and give us love,” said Shimweefeleni. Inmates are now allowed to receive toiletries from their loved ones every month when they request it, added Shimweefeleni.
This, he noted, is an effort to rehabilitate inmates. Previously, many people smuggled contraband into prison because there was no provision for them to get toiletries from their loved ones. As a result, they would sell the smuggled goods in order to make ends meet, explained Shimweefeleni.
“Why should families bring dagga and tobacco to inmates so that they can get more sentences? These things are destroying lives here and people end up fighting inside the prison,” said Shimweefeleni.
The smuggling of contraband has also contributed to the formation of gangs, explained Shimweefeleni.
“When one person is selling they want to control everything and everybody – that is how gangs are formed,” he added. At the Windhoek Correctional facility, 100 grams of tobacco is sold for N$4,000 and a fingertip worth of cannabis is N$30, said the 47-year-old Shimweefeleni.
“I’m lucky because I don’t smoke or consume alcohol.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner-General of the Namibian Correctional Service, Raphael Tuhafeni Hamunyela, said officers who were caught assisting inmates to smuggle cellphones got paid between N$1,200 and N$2,000 just to smuggle the cellphones into the prison. Shimweefeleni also spoke about the distribution of condoms in correctional facilities, saying sexual activities in the Windhoek Correctional Facility have reduced drastically compared to when he was first sentenced.
He admitted there are a few who may be engaging in sexual activities but that is something that inmates only hear of once in a while.
“People that still want to consider those things (sex in prison) as part of their lives are few. They can be put in a single cell. Sodomy is no longer a case here. It’s coming to an end. The correctional facility is very close to eliminating what is happening (sex) here,” he said, emphasising that the rehabilitation programmes are transforming the lives of inmates.
“Now if you bring condoms you want to destroy the rehabilitation that is taking place in correctional facilities.” Giving an example of his own life, Shimweefeleni testified that in the beginning he did not associate with fellow inmates.
“I would not be here talking to you if I was not rehabilitated. There were some people from the media who requested an interview but I refused. But I allowed you to interview me so that I tell you what is in my heart – it’s because rehabilitation is really taking place in this correctional facility,” said Shimweefeleni.