Angolans want answers about prisoners
An Angolan delegation last week paid a courtesy call to the Oshana Police’s regional headquarters to enquire about their nationals being kept in Namibian prisons.
Although friendly, the visit last week Wednesday comes in the wake of allegations that an Angolan national had spent over two years behind bars after he was found without the necessary documents.
The allegations, although unfounded, have exposed both neighbouring countries for their poor immigration systems, especially when it comes to deporting illegal immigrants.
During the closed door meeting with Oshana Police Chief Commissioner Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa, the Angolan delegation asked in great lengths about their nationals kept at the Oshakati and Ondangwa prisons as well as the Oluno Rehabilitation Centre.
The Angolan delegation also wanted to know about a prisoner whose fate looks bleak as police allegedly continue to detain him with other criminals for being in the country illegally instead of deporting him.
Kashihakumwa insists there was a miscommunication and that the detainee in question had been moved form the Ondangwa prison to the Oluno Rehabilitation Centre – where hardcore criminals are kept – after he became a trouble - maker for other prisoners.
“There was a mistake. Wrong information was given to them. Our law is very clear.
There is just no way we would keep someone behind bars for that long without him appearing before a court.”
“I don’t know exactly why that prisoner was arrested, but all that information can be found at the Oluno Rehabilitation Centre and I told the Angolan delegation as much,” said Kashihakumwa.
He was, however, at pains to admit that the police were working under difficult and restricting circumstances that often lead to illegal immigrants being thrown together in one cell with repeated o enders.
“Procedurally, illegal immigrants have to be kept in different cells from suspected criminals. The law clearly states that we can’t keep them together.”
“However, due to a lack of cells, we often don’t have a choice but to keep them all together. This also means we are feeding extra mouths with our budget - giving them water, a place to sleep and offering them security,” Kashihakumwa added.
It has also emerged that illegal immigrants, instead of being taken to the immigration tribunal so that they can be deported back to their countries, are often kept in police cells longer than is necessary due to a lack of vehicles.
“In most cases we try our level best to work together with immigration so that the immigrants appear before a tribunal and get deported. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes longer than we expected,” Kashihakumwa said.